Local Connection: Compact of Free Associations - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Local Connection: Compact of Free Associations

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Hawaii is a welcoming place, so we should be able to welcome the pacific islanders who have arrived in Hawaii because of the Compact of Free Association with Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau.  

It's estimated we are home to between 15,000-17,000 people from the Compact nations. Most are productive, family-oriented self-supporting members of our community.  But some have been less successful, and their use of health care, social services and housing has been a burden to our state.   

The federal government has provided only token impact aid, and congress has been less supportive of the COFA migrants than other immigrants.  

This has unfortunately made our Oceanic migrants a target for resentment even though they are simply making choices similar to those made by generations of immigrants before them.

It is a shame that compact migrants make up about a third of the people living the Kakaako homeless encampment, and many of them are children.  They deserve the same help as anyone else down on his luck and willing to seek better conditions.

So it is very encouraging to see our federal government and non-profit sectors coming together to form a Micronesian "One-Stop Center" at St. Elizabeths Episcopal Church in Kalihi.  A new non-profit called "We are Oceania" will have the resources, knowledge and cultural sensitivity to help them succeed in this new and foreign place.

We are glad to see that the experienced folks at Partners in Development Foundation, are also stepping in.

This enterprise, although overdue, is truly in the spirit of Aloha.

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