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Cnmi's Former Stateless Issue: an Accident Waiting to Happen

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Cnmi's Former Stateless Issue: an Accident Waiting to Happen

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  • March 2006
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Since the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) was founded, countless people have left their homelands as alien laborers in pursuit of the American dream. Each laborer was allowed to settle in the CNMI to work and make a living. These people made the CNMI a diverse group of ethnicities and nationalities. The CNMI is the home of Chamorros, Carolinians, Pacific Islanders, Asians, and people from around the world, including the mainland United States, "statesiders."

At the end of World War II, the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI) became a Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) on July 18, 1947. The TTPI is a United Nations Trust Territory, administered by the United States under a Trusteeship Agreement with the United Nations Security Council (History and Politics). The NMI was considered to be a foreign country for nationality purposes, and the people were considered aliens under US law (Aguon).

Between January 9, 1978 and November 4, 1986, a binding agreement was created to establish a commonwealth status and political union with the United States of America and the Northern Mariana Islands (Acquisition). This agreement was called, the US-CNMI covenant. Since the NMI was part of the TTPI, the trusteeship agreement was not terminated until November 3, 1986, when the US-CNMI covenant was implemented, giving the NMI commonwealth status. Although the covenant granted US citizenship to the CNMI, it did not give US citizenship to all the people who lived in the CNMI at that time. The covenant only gave US citizenship to certain persons, specifically identified under Article III of the agreement.

Citizens of the TTPI period and anyone born in the CNMI after the covenant was implemented, regardless of their nationality, became US citizens. However, during 1978 and 1986 when the US-CNMI covenant was being written and signed, about 350 children were born in the CNMI of alien laborers and were not granted US citizenship. Article III, Section...