The Office of Insular Affairs through the U.S. Census Bureau is currently here to do a Compact of Free Association census in the CNMI. That is a headcount on the number of migrants in the CNMI who come from Freely Associated States and other U.S. territories.
That includes residents of not just from the Freely Associated States—Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau—but also those from Guam, Hawaii, and American Samoa.
Survey results of the Compact impact study would determine federal policies and how much federal dollars would go to the CNMI to offset the CNMI’s cost of educating and providing social, health, and other services to these migrants.
OIA and U.S. Census Bureau representatives made a presentation yesterday on Capital Hill to House Speaker Ralph Demapan (R-Saipan) and some members of the House and Senate on how they plan to do the Compact census.
According to Sen. Sixto Igisomar (R-Saipan), data collection is very crucial to this survey, hence his reason for raising the issue of house numbering in the CNMI.
“Maybe street numbering is what we need,” he said. “Maybe the U.S. Census Bureau can work with the CNMI leadership—both in the House and Senate—to prioritize house numbering system.
Loraine A. West, the Demographic and Economic Studies Branch Population Division chief who is heading the survey, said that identifying houses can be a challenge since the CNMI does not have a street numbering system.
“We are aware of that and that’s why we do listings separately,” she said. “We came in July and that was the objective then to literally to walk up and down the streets and off the streets to identify the place that somebody might live in. We built an address register and if there no number or street, then we would describe it, like ‘the yellow house behind the church’ description so now when the enumerators go out, they have the description of what they’re looking for, so our goal is nobody gets missed.”
“We are cooperating with the CNMI Central Statistics Division. …Back in 2013, when we last had to do an estimate, we just relied on the 2010 Census data to determine the estimate of the Compact of Free Association qualified migrants here… Now the goal is to get a more accurate estimate about the migrants,” she added.
Harry C. Blanco, the CNMI field representative at the Office of Insular Affairs, said that Congress has allotted $30 million to execute this survey.
“After they do the survey, they bring the statistics back to our office and our economist pretty much dissects the collected data and that’s how we award federal grants: based on the population of the Compact migrants,” he said.
West and her team started the survey yesterday afternoon and are looking until the end of September to collect data.
“A total of 22,000 households dispersed all over Saipan will be targeted,” she added.