The U.S. Department of Interior will release more than $1.2 million to Hawaii to help with the financial burden of dealing with migrants from Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz announced Wednesday.
A total of $1,276,000 will be given to Hawaii on top of the more than $12 million already released by DOI for the 2017 fiscal year.
“This funding will continue to help Hawaii take care of its FAS citizens, which is the right thing to do,” Schatz said. “However, the disproportionate financial impact to Hawaii is the direct result of an agreement made by the federal government, not the state.”
Under the Compacts of Free Association, these states, in accordance with the U.S., are compensated for the loss of life, health, land and resources from prior nuclear weapons tests in these regions.
These same treaties allow Micronesian citizens to live and work in the U.S. as legal non-immigrants, while giving the U.S. sole access, military and veto power over the islands.
According to U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 17,000 migrants from the region in Hawaii.
Despite the law, many, like Schatz, hope the federal government will take responsibility of the financial costs associated for Hawaii and “stop passing unfair costs down to the state.”