Guam report: FAS tab costs $76.8 million
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Guam has incurred $76.8 million in costs for providing social services to freely associated migrants, according to the government's Compact Impact Report for 2019 and 2020.
The territory receives about $14 million in annual compact reimbursements from the $30 million allocated for host jurisdictions.
Guam has been pushing the federal government to provide an amount commensurate to the costs it incurs. But faced with the likelihood of not getting any amount at all, Guam senators expressed willingness to take what it currently receives.
The annual compact impact funding provisions, which expire on Sept. 30, will not be renewed, thus Guam will have to shoulder the costs of hosting migrants from Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.
Tina Muna Barnes
"The removal of key provisions in the FY 2024 budget proposal only shortchanges our migrant community, some of whom are the most vulnerable,” said Vice Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes, chair of the Committee on Federal, Regional & Foreign Affairs.
“Guam continues to host the largest number of migrants from the freely associated states, and I am committed to working with Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Guam Delegate James Moylan to advocate for the restoration of at least $30 million and $6 million in discretionary funds," Muna Barnes said.
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Muña Barnes, along with Speaker Therese M. Terlaje and Minority Leader Sen. Frank Blas Jr. today introduced a resolution asking the Biden administration to reinstate the compact impact reimbursements and discretionary funds for Guam.
“Our brothers and sisters from the freely associated states play a vital role in our community and we must continue to support one another," the vice speaker said. "Guam remains burdened by the United States' inability to adequately offset the additional costs to Guam attributed to the FAS citizens residing on Guam."
The Compacts of Free Association allow FAS citizens to enter, work and study in any U.S. state or territory. Host communities cover the costs of providing health care, education and public safety to the FAS migrants with a 20-year provision for federal reimbursements, albeit much lower than the actual expenditure amounts.
Under the current federal law, $30 million in Compact allocation is divided among Guam, Hawaii, the Northern Marianas and American Samoa.
As of 2020, 30,344 FAS citizens currently reside in Guam, nearly doubling the amount in 10 years, states the compact impact report prepared by the Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans.
Cutting the compact impact reimbursements altogether "is totally unacceptable," according to the authors of the resolution.
“While President Biden just signed a Proclamation celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, where he highlighted the strides made by the Biden administration to advance equity and create economic opportunities, I hope that our Pacific Island brothers and sisters right here in the Pacific are treated with the same priority by this administration," Terlaje said.
“Failure to mitigate the impacts of this U.S. policy on Guam and other host communities will directly and unfairly affect the ability of our schools, hospital, and social services agencies to provide critical basic services to all the residents of Guam," she added.