A US State Department official said Tuesday that good-faith efforts were being made to see that nationals of island nations that have Compact of Free Association agreements with the United States are involved in study or work as a condition of their continued residency in the United States. Union. Guam has become the top destination of choice for Compact migrants, especially from the Federated States of Micronesia.
However, the official acknowledged, the effort was challenging.
Guam congressional delegates and members of Congress from other jurisdictions with large numbers of Compact migrants have expressed similar concern about the need to see migrants delaying their deal, Sandra Oudkirk, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, stated in a telephone conference on the day. Tuesday with regional reporters.
“It’s kind of challenging to measure what … citizens of free-associated states when they travel to the United States and US territories because, of course, they don’t need a visa to travel,” Oudkirk said. “However, we are making a good faith effort to determine that Compact citizens fulfill … their agreement under the Compact of Free Association, namely that the journey is for work, study or for life, so we are working with the best possible jurisdiction.”
And the idea of establishing a screening process in the Compact’s migrant home country, something Guam has requested, would fall outside the State Department’s jurisdiction, he said.
That will be a function of the US Department of Homeland Security, he said.
The number of migrants from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau coming to the United States increased by 68%, from about 56,000 to around 94,000, in the five years to 2018, according to a US Government Accountability Office Report released in June.
The report was submitted to the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
That suggests that Guam sees the biggest impact of migration, now hosting about 18,900 migrants from the island countries. Approximately 11% of Guam’s population consists of migrants from Compact countries.
Hawaii has more Compact migrants, at 24,700, but with a Hawaiian population of around 1.4 million, Compact migrants make up only 1.7% of the state’s population.
The State Department conference call includes Craig Hart, deputy assistant administrator for Asia at the US Agency for International Development.
Avoiding China’s ‘debt trap diplomacy’
There were also concerns expressed by the State Department at a press conference about China’s “predatory” loans to developing countries.
The State Department and Treasury will work together, after joining the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Center, in placing “a higher focus on strengthening the resilience of the Pacific economy to debt stress and economic shocks,” according to a State Department speaker.
This refers to what some call China’s policy to engage in “debt-trap diplomacy.”
“The narrative that China is engaging in troubled debt-trap diplomacy has taken off since 2018. Coined the previous year by an India expert, the term implies that Beijing is deliberately pursuing unsustainable debt-for-infrastructure deals with developing countries along its path. . Belt and Road Initiatives are everywhere. … Such warnings gained prominence after White House officials began to publicly raise awareness, “wrote Matt Ferchen and Anarkalee Perera in a July 2019 report for the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy.
The Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Center, established in Fiji in 1993, supports 16 Pacific island countries and territories: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor – Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.