FSM detainees on Guam seek help from President Panuelo

FSM President David Panuelo (file photo)

There are roughly 30 FSM citizens held in detention at the Hagatna Detention Facility under the authority of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They have been held and unable to return to their home country since before COVID forced the closure of their countries’ borders.

ICE detainee Chuthan Williander is pleading with the FSM President to show them some compassion.

After hearing that FSM President David Panuelo authorized the Chief Mailo to return home to the FSM based on repeated negative COVID-19 test results and the increased exposure to the virus in the Philippines, Williander and nearly 30 FSM detainees held in the Hagatna Detention Facility are calling upon their president to show them compassion.

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“The compassion he has for those citizens that were stranded in the Philippines, I am hoping he can share that compassion with us. There are 28 of us ICE detainees. Some have been locked up since 2015 and have been here under ICE custody since March 2020. They can not go back home to the FSM due to the travel ban,” Williander said.

Many of the ICE detainees are being held on an Order for Removal, meaning they have served their time for their crime and are technically “free.” But because they are not able to be released back into Guam’s community, they remain detained in prison until they can be sent home.

“I don’t’ understand how he can have compassion for those citizens and not share that compassion with the rest of us citizens here. He says clearly in his speech earlier when he stated that he’s aware from his FSM task force that they have permission but the dangers in the Philippines are more…it just doesn’t make sense how…all I know is like Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said this virus has no boundaries,” Williander said.

Williander shares that ICE detainees are tested weekly for coronavirus and results have consistently returned negative. He and the 28 other ICE detainees hail from one of the four Federated States of Micronesia and they say just want to go home.

“We are really hoping that if the president can allow us to go back, maybe on a ship, if we can’t go on a flight, then on a ship if that’s possible. We could stay on the ship quarantined just like the Chief Mailo did,” Williander said.

As it stands now, ICE detainees who are paying for their flights home are repeatedly having to re-book their flights as they wait for the FSM borders to re-open. Williander shares that since we last spoke to him, the FSM Embassy has not attempted to make any contact with them or return their calls.


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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.