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Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Compact Impact: DoI Launches Census of COFA Migrants
By News Release @ 3:50 PM :: 4311 Views :: National News

Interior, Census Launch 2018 Enumeration of Compact Migrants in Hawaii, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa 

To Determine Distribution of Compact Impact Funds

News Release from US Department of the Interior August 16, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 16, 2017) – Interior Acting Assistant Secretary Nikolao Pula has signed a Statement of Work with the U.S. Census Bureau to carry out the next 5-year enumeration of migrants from the Freely Associated States in Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and American Samoa, as required by the Compact of Free Association Amendments Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-188).  The next enumeration, which is the basis for allocating funds to help offset the economic and social impact of these migrants in the affected jurisdictions, will occur in fiscal year 2018 and be completed by December 2018. 

“The law requires that we work with the Census Bureau to conduct this enumeration every five years as the basis for the distribution of Compact Impact funds,” said Pula. “I have reached out to Governors of Guam, Hawaii, the CNMI and American Samoa asking for their cooperation to ensure the enumeration is successful. We have also reached out to members of Congress.”

“We look forward to working closely with officials on Guam and in the CNMI as well as with the communities of Micronesians, Marshallese and Palauans living there to ensure the data are complete and accurate” said Karen Battle, Chief, Population Division, Census Bureau. “We have established an approach that is appropriate and ensures that data for all four jurisdictions are comparable during this round, just as it has been in the past.  We can also ensure that we are committed to and bound by law to protect the privacy of individuals.”

Data on Compact migrants in American Samoa and Hawaii will be obtained from existing sources, namely 2010 Census figures for American Samoa where there are fewer Compact migrants, and the American Community Survey data for 2015-17 for Hawaii which will provide more current data.  Field surveys will be conducted in Guam and the CNMI, following the same method as was used in the 2008 enumeration.  Census and Interior officials will be visiting Guam and Saipan in the near future to make necessary arrangements to launch this important effort.

The table below shows enumeration figures from 2008 and 2013.  Under current law, the 2018 enumeration should be the last as the financial provisions under the Compact, including Compact Impact funding, expire in 2023.

U.S. Census Bureau Enumerations of

Compact Migrants in Affected Jurisdictions













American Samoa



The cost of conducting the 2018 enumeration will be $1,490,039.  Of that total, $617,451 will be funded by Compact Impact funding, set aside by the U.S. Congress through the Compact of Free Association for the enumeration.  The remaining $872,588 will be funded through the technical assistance program.

Under the Compacts of Free Association first approved in Public Law 99-239 (1986) and Public Law 99-658 (1994), and later amended in Public Law 108-188 (2003), citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are legal nonimmigrants allowed, for indefinite periods of time, to live, work and study in the United States without need for a visa.  They also serve in the U.S. military and currently serve in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces in large numbers that are disproportionate to the sizes of their populations.  The Compact agreements terminated the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, providing the U.S. with important strategic denial rights to the area in the western Pacific Ocean between Guam and Hawai‘i.  In 1996, under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, FAS citizens were deemed ineligible for federal public benefits.  Thus began what has been a rising concern for the Guam and Hawaii governments that have directly borne the cost of public services related to FAS migrants, also referred to as “Compact impact”.  

In a separate U.S. Census Bureau estimate using 2010-2014 data, there are approximately 41,380 citizens from the FSM, RMI and Palau living in the 50 States.  The five States with the highest number of FAS citizens are Hawai‘i (17,205), Arkansas (3,625), Washington (3,430), Oregon (2,580), and Texas (2,090).  These numbers do not incorporate the smaller number of American citizens who are of Micronesian, Marshallese, and Palauan ancestry.


The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for coordinating federal policy for the territories of the Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and for administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance provided to the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau under the Compacts of Free Association. On behalf of the Secretary, the Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas executes these responsibilities through the Office of Insular Affairs whose mission is to foster economic opportunity, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.


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