Sign your name on behalf of health justice! 

Please consider signing our petition below, urging our Congress to restore federal benefits for U.S. residents, taxpayers, workers, students, and community members present under the Compacts of Free Association.  Also, please consider submitting testimony in support of our state resolution urging the same! 


Sign the Petition

A Petition to Congress Urging the Restoration of Federal Healthcare and Other Benefits for U.S. Residents Present Under the Compacts of Free Association

WHEREAS, the Freely Associated States of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia are comprised of a multitude of islands, languages, and cultures throughout the Micronesian region of the Pacific Ocean; andWHEREAS, the Freely Associated States were former Trust Territories of the United States, and, as sovereign nations,continue to place their trust in the United States through the Compacts of Free Association; and

WHEREAS, the Compacts of Free Association between the Freely Associated States and the United States of America recognize the historic sacrifices and contributions of the citizens of the Freely Associated States to the interests of the United States, including the use of their island atolls for 67 nuclear tests from 1946 to 1958,[1] the subjecting of Marshallese people to human radiation experiments without their knowledge or their consent,[2] and the United States military’s occupation of their islands to ensure United States control of the Pacific; and

WHEREAS, under the Compacts of Free Association, the United States continues to exercise exclusive military jurisdiction over the lands and waters of the Freely Associated States, and continues to use their sovereign territory formilitary weapons testing, including the use of their atolls as part of the U.S. National Missile Defense Program’s long-range intercontinental ballistic missile defense system;[3] and

WHEREAS, decades of United States administration have failed to establish economic independence within the Freely Associated States, leading to a lack of adequate agricultural, educational, and health infrastructure necessary for a self-sufficient society;[4] and

WHEREAS, in addition to these sacrifices, the sons and daughters of the citizens of the Freely Associated States continue to lay down their lives in the interests of the United States, representing some of the highest per-capita military recruitment levels to the United States military compared to any other jurisdiction, including each of the fifty states of the United States of America;[5] and

WHEREAS, the people of the Freely Associated States have also contributed greatly to the Pacific peoples’ understanding of the common cultural heritage and pride of all Pacific Islanders, such as through the traditional ocean navigation techniques kept alive and rejuvenated by the late “Papa” Mau Piailug;[6] and

WHEREAS, despite the limited right to travel, reside, work, seek educational opportunity, and seek medical treatment in the United States, citizens of the Freely Associated States who find themselves in the United States continue to encountersubstantial and varied forms of discrimination, including cultural, economic, linguistic, and social barriers;[7] and

WHEREAS, despite the rights to reside and seek economic opportunity in the United States granted to citizens of the Freely Associated States, the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 removed citizens of the Freely Associated States present under the Compacts of Free Association from their previous eligibility for numerous federal benefits, including Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, housing, and other social safety nets to which all other citizens and most lawful permanent resident immigrants enjoy;[8] and

WHEREAS, this discrepancy has resulted in the harsh and disparate treatment for U.S. residents, workers, taxpayers, and community members present under the Compacts of Free Association, including the denial of medical access leading to adverse health consequences and even death for a number of these individuals;[9] now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED that the undersigned respectfully urge the federal Congress to include U.S. resident citizens of the Freely Associated States as “qualified aliens” to restore their eligibility for federal benefits under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, in recognition of their historic and ongoing sacrifices and contributions to the United States unique to almost any other jurisdiction throughout the world; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this Petition be transmitted to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Majority and Minority Leaders of the United States House of Representatives; the Chairs of the United States House Committees on: Armed Services, Budget, Energy and Commerce, Homeland Security, Ways and Means, and Foreign Affairs; the President of the United States Senate; the Majority and Minority Leaders of the United States Senate; the Chairs of the Senate Committees on: Appropriations, Armed Services, Budget, Finance, and Foreign Relations; and the Chair of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.



PETITION FOOTNOTES: [1] Oversight on the Compact of Free Association with the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI):  Medical Treatment of the Marshallese People, U.S. Nuclear Tests, Nuclear Claims Tribunal, Forced Resettlement, Use of Kwajalein Atoll for Missle Programs and Land Use Development: Hearing Before the Subcomm. On Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment of the H. Comm. On Foreign Affairs (hereinafter “Subcomm. On Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment”), Written Testimony of Jonathan M. Weisgall at 3-4, 111th Cong. (2010) available at http://www.hcfa.house.gov/111/56559.pdf (“Between 1946 and 1958, the United States conducted 67 atomic and hydrogen atmospheric bomb tests at Bikini and Enewetak atolls, with a total yield of 108 megatons.  That is the equivalent to 7,200 Hiroshima bombs . . .  at least four islands at Bikini and five at Enewetok were completely or partially vaporized.”).

[2] Id. (“The U.S. Government moved the people of Bikini five times in four decades, even carelessly back to their own atoll until the islanders themselves had to sue the United States to be moved off . . .  Although they were over 100 miles from Bikini, the people of Rongelap received a radiation dose from Bravo equal to that received by Japanese people less than two miles from ground zero at Hiroshima . . . The people were moved off the islands for three years . . . and they moved off again in 1985 amid concerns about radiation dangers . . . questions about radiation safety continue to linger.”); id. Testimony of Rep. Gary Ackerman at 2 (“In the midst of the Cold War, it was easy to rationalize.  We were in danger.  We needed to know what these new weapons of unprecedented power could do.  We had to know how to survive exposure to radiation in the event [of] nuclear attack.  But in the end . . .  government officials . . . sent innocent people to live in the cancer incubation ward of a radioactive danger zone.”); see also id., Written Testimony of Jonathan M. Weisgall at 3-4 (citing Robert Conrad, Brookhaven National Laboratory, March 1957 Medical Survey of Rongelap and Utrik People Three Years After Exposure to Radioactive Fallout (1958))(“The habitation of these people on the island will afford the opportunity for most valuable ecological data on human beings.”); see also Seiji Yamada, Cancer, Reproductive Abnormalities, and Diabetes in Micronesia: The Effect of Nuclear Testing, 11 Pac. Health Dialog 216, 219 (2004) (“Given the megatonnage of nuclear testing . . . it appears plausible that excess cancer would have occurred in areas of Micronesia other than the Marshall Islands.”).

[3] U.S. Gov’t Accountability Office, GAO-02-119, Kwajalein Atoll is the Key U.S. Defense Interest in Two Micronesian Nations 3, 7-8 (2002) available at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d02119.pdf (discussing how the U.S. military “regularly conducts intercontinental ballistic missile tests, missile defense tests, and space tracking operations” on Kwajalein atoll, retains the right to “prevent access to the islands and their territorial waters by the military personnel of other countries,” and may “veto . . . actions by the governments of the FSM or the RMI that the United States determines are incompatible with its authority.”); see also Compact of Free Association, U.S.-Palau, Pub. L. No. 99-658, 100 Stat. 3672 (1986) codified as amended 48 U.S.C. § 1931; Compact of Free Association with Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, Pub. L. No. 108-188, §§ 201(a), (b), 117 Stat. 2720 (2003) codified as amended 48 U.S.C. § 1921 (continuing U.S. military authority under the original compacts).

[4] Patsy T. Mink, Micronesia:  Our Bungled Trust, 6 Tex. Int’l L. F. 181, 184 (1970-71) (“[A]fter winning the right to control Micronesia, [the U.S.] proceeded to allow the islands to stagnate and decay through indifference and lack of assistance. . . . [T]he people are still largely impoverished and lacking in all of the basic amenities which we consider essential – adequate education, housing, good health standards, modern sanitation facilities.”); Donald F. McHenry, Micronesia:  Trust Betrayed – Altruism vs. Self Interest in American Foreign Policy 13 (1975) (discussing a 1961 United Nations Mission to Micronesia criticizing “American administration in almost every area:  poor transportation; failure to settle war damage claims; failure to adequately compensate for land taken for military purposes; poor living conditions[;] inadequate economic development; inadequate education programs; and almost nonexistent medical care.”); People of Bikini v. U.S., 77 Fed. Cl. 744, 788 (2007), aff’d 554 F.3d 996, 998 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (dismissing claims to enforce the U.S.-created Nuclear Claims Tribunal’s awards of $560 million and $386 million to the peoples of Bikini and Enewetak respectively, despite noting that only 0.4% of the total awards have actually been paid); Seiji Yamada & Ann Pobutsky, Micronesian Health Issues in Hawai‘i: Part 1: Background, Home Island Data, and Clinical Evidence, 7 Cal. J. of Health Promotion 16 (2009), available at http://www.cjhp.org/Volume7_2009/Issue2/yamada.pdf; Yamada, supra note 2, at 220 (“While diabetes is not a radiogenic disease, and other cancers are generally less radiogenic than leukemia or thyroid cancer, the social and cultural effects of nuclear testing specifically, and the strategic uses to which Micronesia has been put generally, have each had a role in the social production of disease.”); Subcomm. On Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment, supra note 1, Testimony of Neal Palafox, M.D., M.P.H., at 2-5 (“[A]lienation from the land and critical natural resources through radioactive contamination or forced evacuation destroyed the physical and cultural means of sustaining and reproducing a self-sufficient way of life.  A forced change in dietary patterns and lifestyle prematurely induces heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.”).

[5] Tony Azios, Uncle Sam wants Micronesians for U.S. Military, The Christian Science Monitor, May 5, 2010 available at http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2010/0505/Uncle-Sam-wants-Micronesians-for-US-military (“[T]he four states that make up the Federated States of Micronesia [are] ahead of every U.S. state in Army recruits per capita in recent years.”); Justin Nobel, A Micronesian Paradise – for U.S. Military Recruiters, TIME World, Dec. 31, 2009 available at http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1950621,00.html (“In 2008, [the FSM] had more Army recruits per capita than any U.S. state.  It also has more casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, per capita.  The islands have lost nine soldiers in the wars out of a population of 107,000 – a rate five times the U.S. national average.”).

[6] See, e.g., Nā‘ālehu Anthony (dir.), Papa Mau: The Wayfinder (video) (2010), available at http://www.oiwi.tv/live/channels/olelo/sb-1235/channels/student-showcase/papa-mau-the-wayfinder/ (last accessed Feb. 18, 2013); Polynesian Voyaging Society, Hawaiian Voyaging Traditions: Pius “Mau” Piailug (1932-2010), http://pvs.kcc.hawaii.edu/index/founder_and_teachers/mau.html (last accessed Feb. 18, 2013).

[7] Aaron Kendall, A League of Their Own, Hana Hou! Magazine (Oct./Nov. 2012), available at http://www.hanahou.com/pages/magazine.asp?Action=DrawArticle&ArticleID=1125&MagazineID=70&Page=1;  Michael Keany, Micronesian in Hawaii, Honolulu Magazine (Aug. 2011) available at http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/August-2011/Micronesian-in-Hawaii/; Chad Blair, No Aloha for Micronesians in Hawaii, Civil Beat, June 20, 2011 available at http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2011/06/20/11650-no-aloha-for-micronesians-in-hawaii/

[8] Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, Pub. L. No. 104-193, §§ 401, 431, 110 Stat. 2105 (1996), codified as amended at 8 U.S.C.A. §§ 1611, 1641.

[9] Seiji Yamada, M.D., M.P.H., Discrimination in Hawai‘i and the Health of Micronesians, 3 Haw. J. of Pub. Health 55, 56 (2011) available at http://hawaii.gov/health/hjph/Volumes/Volume3(1)/2011-3(1)-55-57.pdf; Aenet Rowa, Judge Dismisses Hawaii’s Request for Dismissal of Suit against Basic Health Hawaii, Yokwe Online, Nov. 11, 2010 available at http://www.yokwe.net/index.php?module=News&func=display&sid=2706 (citing 27 deaths attributed to the lack of adequate health care under Basic Health Hawai‘i)Aaron Saunders et. al., Health as a Human Right: Who is Eligible?, 69 Haw. Med. J. 4, 5 (June 2010) available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3123152/ (“Patients needing care for conditions such as renal failure and cancer will suffer, because chemotherapy and hemodialysis are life-sustaining treatments. . . .  Micronesians are being told that they are no longer part of the family, that they can take their broken bodies and go home to die.”).

Become a voice for justice!

Want to make a statement about justice, equality, and community values in your state?
State resolutions will be introduced in the Hawai’i State Legislature, Regular Session of 2013, urging Congressional decisionmakers to close the federal loophole that has removed COFA residents’ eligibility for a broad range of federal safety nets, including Medicaid, SSI, SSDI, and other federal protections.  You can do the same in your state, and we can help!  Please let us know if you may be interested in adding your own state’s voice to the cause.   Contact restoringjusticehi@gmail.com for guidance, suggestions, talking points (see our sample), or even draft language on resolutions that will send a strong message of justice to our Congressional leaders!


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