Guam – Yesterday Assistant Secretary of the Interior Tony Babauta held a closed door meeting with Micronesia’s Chief Executives. Although the details of that meeting weren’t made public the meeting was about compact impacts or the impacts of the many migrants that come to Guam and the U.S. from throughout Micronesia. Today PNC spoke to some of the Chief executives to find out their thoughts on compact impacts.
Thousands of Micronesian migrants have moved to Guam, Hawaii and other jurisdictions in the United States freely due to the compact of free association. It’s a treaty that allows citizens from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to emigrate freely to the United States.
Because of it’s close proximity many of these migrants come to Guam. The influx of migrants increases Guam’s cost for providing education, healthcare and public safety. The U.S. federal government is supposed to re-imburse Guam and other affected jurisdictions but it’s reimbursements are simply not enough. “It’s again one of those issues where there are not enough financial resources that are available to mitigate the impacts by the American communities that are affected by this treaty but also those compact nations that have issues also with the United States,” said Guam Governor and Micronsian Executive Summit Chairman Eddie Calvo. Governor Calvo believes that one of the answers is to improve the economy of the region and thus the focus of the 17th Micronesian Chief Executives Summit is on creating a stronger regional economy.
FSM president Emmanuel Mori said that the Department of the Interior plans on doing a more effective and balanced study of the actual cost of compact migrants by factoring in the contributions that they make. Migrants who work on Guam also pay taxes and other fees associated with living on Guam. Nevertheless President Mori understands that there are negative impacts from compact migrants and he is planning on implementing a sort of orientation for citizens who emigrate to Guam from his country. “Also before they leave those that are still back home before they leave for Guam, CNMI, Hawaii, they have to learn the do’s and dont’s and that is very important because our people from here are not quite understanding what they can do and what they can’t do,” said President Mori.
Guam’s Department of Youth Affairs has seen a drastic spike in the number of inmates who are either from the FSM or have parents from the FSM. DYA Director Adonis Mendiola has some plans to help curb this trend. “I’ve asked President Mori along with the Governor of Chuuk and the consulate to endorse DYA’s plans to reach out to the community the FSM, FAS community through it’s faith based organizations which would provide a great structure which would provide a great resource for children and or their families to reconnect with their faith provide structure provide guidance,” said Mendiola.
Chuuk has the largest population of all the Freely Associated States and thus the majority of migrants. Chuuk Governor Johnson Elimo says that he’s been working with different church organizations to reach the Chuukese who migrate to Guam. “I like to just send this message a plea to all my citizens of Chuuk who live in Guam to behave in Guam and be a part of the good community and just adhere to the laws and regulations of this island and enjoy the opportunities in Guam,” said Governor Elimo.
According to a release from the Assistant Secretary of the Interior, yesterdays meeting on compact impacts included discussions on congressional concerns regarding education, COFA migrant rights, privileges and responsibilities, healthcare, and attempts to develop screening measures for COFA migrants.