Joint Statement on COFA and Executive Orders
COFA Alliance National Network, APANO, Micronesian Islander Community of Oregon, Oregon Marshallese Comunity, ACLU of Oregon, Palau Association of Oregon
February 20, 2017
We want to acknowledge that there are recently published news reports that have stated that an Executive Order (EO) from the White House is expected to be issued which could affect citizens of the COFA countries, namely, the Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The news reports state that the proposed EO aims to “ensure the United States does not welcome individuals who are likely to become or have become a burden on taxpayers.” The article further reports that it is likely that this EO will also affect those COFA citizens who are currently residing in the US and its territories.
We understand that the COFA communities in Oregon and across the US and territories are very concerned and have many questions and fears about what these reports mean. Whether or not this proposed EO will actually materialize is yet to be seen. At this point, we are not aware of any reported changes to the COFA immigration status. Citizens of the COFA countries are still legally allowed to travel to the US and reside under the Compact treaty provisions. A press release from the Embassy of the Republic of the Marshall Islands published on 2/15/17, states that after meetings with officials from the Department of Homeland Security, United States Custom and Immigration Services and Department of State last week, there have been no changes as of yet. CANN, APANO and partners are closely monitoring the situation and will regularly communicate any new updates regarding the proposed Executive Order.
To all fellow COFA islanders including our whole API communities in Oregon and beyond, we want you to know that we are standing in solidarity with you and with all of our communities across the United States. Partner organizations such as the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, COFA Alliance National Network, Micronesian Islander Community, and ACLU of Oregon are actively supporting COFA communities in order to continue the progress we have made in this State. We are also in communication with partners nationally and we will be providing regular updates. Please be assured that we will continue to advocate for our communities, and fight policies that seek to undermine our liberties and the wellbeing of our communities. We will seek every possible legal avenue to fight these policies and to ensure that we protect our COFA islander families along with all other immigrants and refugees.
3 recommendations COFA Citizens:
- Ensure your passports are updated and that you have access to your I-94 documents.
- Stay connected with trusted community leaders (email COFA Lead Organizer David Anitok at [email protected] and/or like CANN on Facebook).
- Reach out to community partners for any questions you have.
Key Rights to remember:
- As a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, or the Republic of the Marshall Islands, you are legally residing in the U.S. under an international treaty called the Compact of Free Association (COFA).
- Under the COFA treaty, citizens of the COFA countries have the right to travel in and out of the U.S. and territories to reside and work for an unlimited duration of time given that you have a valid passport from your COFA country.