Maui News

Gabbard Urges Action on IDs for COFA Migrants

May 30, 2019, 6:29 AM HST
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Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard urged the Department of Homeland Security to take immediate action in granting Compact of Freely Associated States migrants REAL IDs.

Gabbard led colleagues in drafting a bipartisan letter regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s administrative rules which she says places “undue constraints” on Compact of Freely Associated States migrants seeking to obtain REAL IDs.

“The agreements the United States made through the Compact of Free Association are being undermined by current Department of Homeland Security rules, making it very hard for Compact migrants to get the identification they need to get a job, go to school, or travel. DHS rules contradict existing law, and must immediately be corrected,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “This is an urgent situation impacting thousands of people who have legally come to the United States and are suffering the consequences of this bureaucratic mishap.”

“My bill, HR 3398 — which was previously signed into law — was designed to correct an egregious oversight which prevented citizens of the Freely Associated States from obtaining anything more than a temporary ID or driver’s license. As a practical matter, this can hurt their ability to maintain long-term employment or engage in other lawful activities where they legally reside,” said Congressman Young. “When my legislation became law, it should have solved this issue and allowed FAS citizens to obtain REAL ID compliant identification.

“However, recent guidance put into place by the Department of Homeland Security has imposed additional burdens on these citizens. FAS citizens who reside here are proud to call the United States and its territories home, and it is my hope that DHS will work with us to find a long-term solution for them in line with the intent of Congress.”

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“I was happy to cosponsor the REAL ID Act Modification for Freely Associated States, and hope to see this matter resolved completely for these legal residents of the US,” said Congresswoman Aumua Amata. “Thank you to Congresswoman Gabbard for continued leadership on this effort.”

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“Our Compacts of Free Association with the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republics of Palau and the Marshall Islands are of key importance to all of our countries,” said Congressman Ed Case. “The Compacts permit citizens of the Freely Associated States to live and work in our country with a valid unexpired passport and documentation that they entered under the Compacts. It is directly contrary to the Compacts to impose onerous additional requirements that make it very difficult for them to access the basics of everyday life like driving and working.”

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