Staying out of trouble

FSM leaders on Guam steering Micronesian citizens out of the criminal court— and onto the basketball court

Two fights involving FSM citizens in separate locations in Dededo broke out and went viral on social media a few days after Typhoon Mangkhut. They were not the first display of the mischief that gives migrants from freely associated states such a bad rap.

“That's why we are forming up,” said John Patis, spokesman for the newly formed FSM Association, "to address these problems and see how we can help our people.”

“Chuuk leaders on Guam actually organized the whole thing— FSM union — and we've been encouraging the other states to come aboard and help,” said Casanova Nakamura, the association’s president.

According to International Overseas migration’s 2016 statistics, there are 13,019 FSM citizens living on Guam. Under the Compact of Free Association with the United States, FSM citizens are allowed to travel to and work visa-free in any U.S. jurisdictions. The first wave of migration was primarily to Guam, but later migrations continued on to Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. IOM said a series of surveys shows the growing numbers of emigrants in the receiving areas. “The main reason so many Micronesians are emigrating is the almost complete lack of economic development within the Federated States of Micronesia,” IOM said in its 2016 report.

On Guam, the impact of growing emigration, especially on law enforcement and public safety, has been a cause for concern for the government. A big fraction of the total of 55 convicted migrants whom Gov. Eddie Calvo deported in the past two years are from FSM.