After reviewing the history and features of the legal framework of the Compact of Free Association (COFA) that determined the U.S. legal status of people from the Micronesian region in the Pacific, this paper examines the nature and impact of discrimination against COFA migrants in Hawaii.
Following World War II, the United States became a protectorate for many Pacific Island nations because of continued interest in a military presence and an interest in testing nuclear weapons. Although these nations gained independence in the 1970-90s, the U.S. interest in a strategic military presence did not decline. To compensate for the damage done to their homeland and in exchange for continued exclusive control of Micronesians’ lands and waters for military purposes, COFA was enacted to clarify the rights of citizens from Micronesian lands to immigrate to the United States as “non-citizen residents.” According to the 2010 Census, there were just over 147,000 people in the United States who identified themselves as being Micronesian in whole or in part. The fastest growing Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander group in the United States are Chuukese people from the Micronesian nation of Chu’uk. Although systematic research has not been conducted on this issue, there have been reports of discrimination against Chuukese people in Hawaii in education, housing, healthcare, and social services. In addressing the research gap on this issue, the current study had three goals: 1) Determine the prevalence of bias crime against COFA migrants in Hawaii; 2) Determine the diffusion effects of bias -crime victimization across the wider Chuukese community; and 3) Determine how the adverse impacts of bias crime impact the adaptation of COFA migrants in Hawaii. 2 tables, 1 figure, and 24 references