Response to Variety stories on deportation of criminals from FSM


Thursday, 27 January 2011 03:53 – mvguam.com

I am writing in response to two recent headline articles by Janela Buhain, “Deport criminal FSM migrants” and “Consul general defends FSM.

More information on US Deporation

First of all, I am curious as to why the sudden appearance of news reportage on the deportation of FSM citizens? Is there a lack of other more newsworthy events to report on? These two articles strike me as an effort to “make news” and stir up more negativity and animosity toward people from the Federated States of Micronesia residing on Guam and in the CNMI, as if people from the FSM do not have a hard enough time just trying to survive as the most stereotyped, discriminated and misunderstood group of people in the Marianas.

I would know, my father is an FSM citizen from Pohnpei, and although I was born on Guam and am a US citizen with a white mother, I have personally experienced and witnessed the kinds of discrimination and unfair treatment we “Micronesians” are subjected to. I won’t go into the complexity of this imposed Micronesian identity, which actually comprises people who are from many different islands with very diverse cultures and languages.

Ms. Buhain’s articles are not groundbreaking and they are not “news” in the sense that they are not saying anything new. Yes, we have heard it time and again, FSM citizens, who are also FAS citizens or citizens of the Freely Associated States, which include the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau, are a “burden” on the economies of Guam, CNMI and the State of Hawai’i. Micronesian migrants are continually portrayed as a drain on the economies of Guam and the CNMI. This is the case even though FAS citizens residing in these two communities pay taxes and both the Guam and CNMI governments have received hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in Compact Impact funds from the federal government as “compensation” for us burdensome Micronesians.

Now we hear the continually opinionated and quite uninformed voice of Dr. Ron McNinch saying FSM citizens, who are convicted felons, should be deported back to the FSM. For Dr. McNinch and other supporters of his, many FSM citizens have been and continue to be deported from Guam, the CNMI, Hawaii and the continental US, some for unjustifiable reasons. It is apparent that Dr. McNinch’s pronouncements are based on very little understanding of the lives and experiences of Micronesians
on Guam. For a person who has been placed in a position of authority, his remarks are all the more irresponsible.

They may however be a response to the December 10, 2010 interview on Guam News Watch of FSM Consul General, Mr. Gerson Jackson, who, unfortunately, made strikingly similar statements to Dr. McNinch — that FSM citizens who do not respect the culture, are not gainfully employed and who rely on public assistance should be deported. Mr. Jackson’s “defense” of FSM in the second Marianas Variety article by Buhain actually offers very little in the way of supporting FSM citizens. This is somewhat surprising for an FSM government official whose role it is to represent FSM citizens on Guam and serve as a positive link between the FSM government and the Government of Guam. How is the Consul General serving his FSM constituents by going on a news show saying that certain FSM citizens should be deported? His remarks both in the Marianas Variety and on Guam News Watch only serve to perpetuate negative sentiments and stereotypes about FSM migrants on Guam, and this does not help them, nor does it benefit the people of Guam, many of whom are Micronesians like me, are related to Micronesians, have Micronesian neighbors or work with Micronesians.

The two Buhain articles serve only to divide the Guam community. They do not offer any appropriate and responsible solutions nor do they encourage goodwill and mutual understanding. We need to remember that many, if not most of the residents of Guam, the CNMI and the larger US are descendents of immigrants. Dr. McNinch himself is a migrant to Guam. Importantly, throughout Guam’s history, the Chamorro people exchanged materials and ideas with their Micronesian neighbors, who sailed outrigger canoes throughout the region on voyages of discovery , settlement and trade. The indigenous peoples of this region have long and deep connections that could offer a point of unity in these changing times. Today, while there are FSM citizens on Guam who commit crimes and should be punished, like any other resident, there are also those who work very hard at minimum wage jobs that no one else wants and who are college educated professionals making real contributions to the community.

To Marianas Variety: Please start printing real headline news, and if you are going to write about FSM citizens on Guam, please let it be something more informed and positive for a change, that itself would be news.

Emelihter Kihleng
Wellington, NZ

Additonal related article: “Deport, but with compassion

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