For the past 30 years, citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau have been able to live and work in the U.S. under the Compacts of Free Association.
While a new report released by the Government Accountability Office highlighted an increase in compact migration and costs, it also emphasized the contribution of COFA migrants to the host community.
Caitlin Mitchell, GAO senior analyst for international affairs and trade, spoke about this during a panel discussion hosted by Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service this week.
“We note in our report that Compact migrants have long worked in the Arkansas poultry processing facilities as well as their roles in tourism and service industries in the Pacific areas….also as business owners, teachers, government employees and particularly their work in caregiving industries including senior care homes,” Mitchell said.
She added: “For example in Hawaii, we learned about Freely Associated States communities participating in environmental cleanup work…we are leveraging their agricultural expertise to help Hawaii farmers grown a more resilient version of taro. Many FAS community members also serve as translators and navigators within their own communities.”
The GAO accountability team visited Arkansas, the CNMI, Guam, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington and met with COFA migrants for the study.