Count of Compact migrants to start soon


WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Census Bureau has been officially tasked to carry out the next 5-year enumeration of migrants from the Freely Associated States.

The next census, which will be implemented in Hawaii, Guam, the CNMI, and American Samoa, will occur in fiscal year 2018 and be completed by December 2018.

In the last census in 2013, a total of 2,660 migrants from the FAS were counted in the CNMI, up from the 2,100 in 2008.

The FAS refers to the Federated States of Micronesia (Yap, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae), Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

In a statement yesterday, it said that acting Interior assistant secretary Nikolao Pula has signed a statement of work with the U.S. Census Bureau to carry out the enumeration of FAS migrants, as required by the Compact of Free Association Amendments Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-188). The results of the census is the basis for allocating funds to help offset the economic and social impact of these migrants in the affected jurisdictions.

“The law requires that we work with the Census Bureau to conduct this enumeration every five years as the basis for the distribution of Compact impact funds,” said Pula. “I have reached out to [the] governors of Guam, Hawaii, the CNMI, and American Samoa, asking for their cooperation to ensure the enumeration is successful. We have also reached out to members of Congress.”

Karen Battle, who heads the Population Division of the U.S. Census Bureau, said: “We look forward to working closely with officials on Guam and in the CNMI as well as with the communities of Micronesians, Marshallese and Palauans living there to ensure the data are complete and accurate.

“We have established an approach that is appropriate and ensures that data for all four jurisdictions are comparable during this round, just as it has been in the past,” she said. “We can also ensure that we are committed to and bound by law to protect the privacy of individuals.”

Data on Compact migrants in American Samoa and Hawaii will be obtained from existing sources, namely the 2010 Census figures for American Samoa where there are fewer Compact migrants, and the American Community Survey data for 2015-17 for Hawaii, which will provide more current data.

Field surveys will be conducted in Guam and the CNMI, following the same method as was used in the 2008 enumeration.

Census and Interior officials will be visiting Guam and Saipan in the near future to make necessary arrangements to launch this effort.

Under current law, the 2018 enumeration should be the last as the financial provisions under the Compact, including Compact impact funding, expire in 2023.

The cost of conducting the 2018 enumeration will be $1,490,039.

Of that total, $617,451 will be funded by Compact impact funding, set aside by the U.S. Congress through the Compact of Free Association for the enumeration.

The remaining $872,588 will be funded through the technical assistance program.

Under the Compacts of Free Association first approved in Public Law 99-239 (1986) and Public Law 99-658 (1994), and later amended in Public Law 108-188 (2003), citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are legal nonimmigrants allowed, for indefinite periods of time, to live, work and study in the United States without need for a visa.

They also serve in the U.S. military and currently serve in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces in large numbers that are disproportionate to the sizes of their populations.

The Compact agreements terminated the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, providing the U.S. with important strategic denial rights to the area in the western Pacific Ocean between Guam and Hawaii.

In 1996, under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, FAS citizens were deemed ineligible for federal public benefits. Thus began what has been a rising concern for the Guam and Hawaii governments that have directly borne the cost of public services related to FAS migrants, also referred to as “Compact impact.”

In a separate U.S. Census Bureau estimate using 2010-2014 data, there are approximately 41,380 citizens from the FSM, RMI, and Palau living in the 50 states.

The five states with the highest number of FAS citizens are Hawaii (17,205), Arkansas (3,625), Washington (3,430), Oregon (2,580), and Texas (2,090). These do not include the smaller number of American citizens who are of Micronesian, Marshallese, and Palauan ancestry. (PR)

Press Release
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