We all must do our part to make Compact work – The Guam Daily Post

Island leaders recently stepped up efforts to again address the impact of the Compact of Free Association. Those efforts are good discussion points for the entire community.

The Compact, which allows for an open-border U.S. policy with citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau, has affected our community in various ways – from our economy to our quality of life. With the agreement up for renewal in 2023, we all must do our part to make the Compact work as best as possible for all those involved.

To be clear, we understand the importance of the Compact, which is important to the national security of the U.S. and its allies. We also recognize the contributions of many Compact migrants, who come here in search of a better life.

But the consequences on Guam, as well as in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Hawaii, need more attention. The migration has strained already limited resources, such as medical care at Guam Memorial Hospital.

No doubt, it’s unfair that federal reimbursement for Compact impact is insufficient. Last year, the government of Guam estimated Compact-impact funding at $142.6 million for fiscal year 2016 but received $16.2 million from the U.S. Interior Department, according to Post files.

Along with the CNMI and Hawaii, Guam has long fought for adequate reimbursement. The Calvo administration has made the case, and is hiring a Washington, D.C. lobbyist to help. Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo and her CNMI and Hawaii counterparts recently reintroduced legislation in Congress to request additional funding.

It’s critical for the Interior Department to support Guam’s bid for more funding. It must stop underestimating the Compact’s burden – financial and otherwise – on host communities.

As Guam leaders try to secure more reimbursement, we support their efforts to help migrants adjust to life here and to give them more opportunities. Bordallo introduced amendments to make migrants eligible for participation in federally funded national and community service programs.

At the same, while many Compact migrants are contributing members of our community, some must change their ways and stop violating the law. It’s reasonable for Gov. Eddie Calvo to deport those convicted of felonies because Guam can’t afford to house, feed and provide medical care to foreign prisoners.

While Guam residents should make our brothers and sisters from Micronesia feel welcome on our island, migrants shouldn’t abuse the privilege of being here. All of us need to work together not only to share but also to strengthen our island home.

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