On Tuesday, March 26, 2013 Former U.S. Ambassador to RMI Mrs. Martha Campbell was invited by Northwest Arkansas Community College to talk about the RMI Compact of Frees Association between the U.S. and the R.M.I Governments and other topics about the Marshall Islands. Her visit is one of many events sponsored by Northwest Arkansas Community College Marshallese Theme Semester program.
What is Compact of Free Association? It defines the relationship that each of three sovereign states the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Republic of Palau. It is very unique in many ways. Martha explained the history of the Compact of Free Association and what is the right of each nation under the Compact. According to Martha, “Marshallese citizens can live; study and work in the U.S. without obtain visas.” In return U.S. government has access to RMI land and water. The first Compact was from 1986 to 2001 but before it was suppose to come to an end. “RMI government was not financially ready” explained Martha. RMI government asked for 2nd Compact which was signed to law and accept by both nations on June 30, 2004. The Compact Amended or the Compact II will end on 2023. “It applies only to the financial assistance” stated Martha. Also in the Compact II the U.S. government gave them access to many U.S. domestic programs, including Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Weather Service, the United States Postal Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and U.S. representation to the International Frequency Registration Board of the International Telecommunications Union.
Is there any financial assistance for Marshallese citizens living in the U.S.? According to Martha “There is an annual 30 million dollars that goes to Guam, Hawaii, Northern Islands and American Samoa to help pay for Micronesia health.” “Arkansas doesn't have any of them because during the time of the Compact II negotiation, the Marshallese population was not very high in Arkansas.” The Marshallese were eligible for Medicaid before The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 was passed by the Congress.
In the state of Arkansas, Marshallese children with disabilities and Marshallese elders who have diabetes are not eligible for Medicaid and are not entitled to access to any Compact II funding. This brings us to the question: is it right for us to live, study, and work here, but only have limited access to health care? Marshallese pay taxes, but are not eligible for any federal health assistance in Arkansas.
- Albious Latior, Marshallese Family Outreach Coordinator
Staff of the Family Support Program (including original content as well as curated links to various authors around the web.)