CNMI Immigration and Border Control Databases

GAO-10-345R Published: Feb 16, 2010. Publicly Released: Feb 16, 2010.
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Under the terms of its 1976 Covenant with the United States, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) administered its own immigration systems from 1978 to 2009. The 2008 Consolidated Natural Resources Act called for the establishment of a transition program, to phase in U.S. immigration law in the CNMI and to phase out the CNMI's current program for non-U.S. citizen (noncitizen) foreign workers; implementation of the transition program began on November 28, 2009. The act requires, among other things, that the CNMI government provide the Secretary of Homeland Security all Commonwealth immigration records, or other information that the Secretary deems necessary, to assist in the implementation of the transition program. The CNMI government has tracked the immigration status of foreign residents with two databases, the Labor and Immigration Identification and Documentation System and the Labor Information Data System. A third database, the Border Management System, tracks visitor arrivals and departures. We were asked to describe (1) the history and key attributes of the three databases and (2) the status of these databases during the transition to federal control of CNMI immigration. To address these objectives, GAO incorporated information from our prior work and continuing work and reviewed relevant documents from the CNMI government and from the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Interior (DOI).

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