Guam spends $128M on Pacific island migrants
HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — Guam spent $128 million on education, health care and other services for people from the Pacific island nations of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau during the last fiscal year.
The federal government reimbursed the island for about $16 million of that total, the Pacific Daily News (http://bit.ly/1fXCkny) reported.
Many migrants contribute to the island community, said Madeline Bordallo, Guam’s delegate to the U.S. Congress. At the same time, providing social services is also financially difficult, she said.
Citizens of the three nations may live and work in the United States under the Compact of Free Association. The 1986 pact grants the U.S. the right to use defense sites in the countries in exchange for financial assistance and migration rights.
Guam spent $47 million on education for migrants last year. More than 7,000 students from the countries attend Guam public schools, accounting for 23 percent of enrollment.
Health, welfare and housing costs amounted to $61 million.
About 24,000 people from Compact of Free Association nations live in Guam. The territory’s overall population numbered about 160,000 in the 2010 census.
The financial data are included in a 2013 Compact Impact Report released Tuesday by the Guam’s Bureau of Statistics and Plans. Guam issues the report to recover the costs of hosting migrants.
The federal government reimburses Guam and states like Hawaii for costs associated with providing government services to citizens of the island nations.
But the U.S. Interior Department hasn’t provided any guidance on how to measure the true costs. Bordallo has urged the department to develop this metric.
Bordallo has said the governments of the countries should inform and educate potential migrants about the difficulties of relocation and the need to have a stable job and living situation before they arrive in Guam.
Information from: Pacific Daily News, http://www.guampdn.com/