Decisions made in Washington, D.C. which allow citizens of Micronesia to enter and reside in U.S. Pacific territories and Hawaii have proved to be very expensive for local governments, which have been stuck with a large part of the bill for providing health care, education and other services to this growing population.
Governments have besieged Washington with complaints that the Compact Impact (better known as COFA) money which is presently provided to them is inadequate to cover these costs.
The special census count is set to launch after September 30 and expected to be completed by December 2018.
The number of COFA migrants will determine how much the money the regions receive from the federal government to compensate for health care, education and other costs. Earlier this month, the U.S. Interior Department said it would provide an additional $3 million in compact impact aid, on top of the $30 million allotted annually.
The count will launch sometime after Sept. 30 and be completed by December 2018. The purpose is to give the U.S. government updated population counts when deciding how much federal money should be allocated for what’s known as “compact impact.”
Under the Compacts of Free Association — COFA — Micronesians from three Pacific nations are allowed to live, work and study for indefinite periods in the United States without need for a visa.
Interior Acting Assistant Secretary Nikolao Pula has signed a “statement of work with the U.S. Census Bureau to carry out the count of migrants from the “freely associated states” in Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa.
Precise census numbers are unknown, but as the table below shows, COFA migration is clearly on the upswing, as Micronesians from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau seek educational, employment and health opportunities in the United States:
U.S. Census Bureau Enumerations of Compact Migrants in Affected Jurisdictions
Hawaii — 12,215 (2008), 14,700 (2013)
Guam — 18,305 (2008), 17,170 (2013)
CNMI — 2,100 (2008), 2,660 (2013)
American Samoa — 15 (2008), 25 (2013)