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President Panuelo Discusses REAL ID and Compact of Free Association with Governor Ige of the State of Hawaii

HONOLULU, Hawaii (FSM Information Services)—On June 25th 2019 His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), was received by the Honorable David Y. Ige, Governor of the U.S. State of Hawaii in a courtesy call to discuss drivers licenses and the Compact of Free Association, among other topics.

His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, poses with the Honorable David Y. Ige, Governor of the U.S. State of Hawaii.

“Thank you so much for your letter about the REAL ID issue,” President Panuelo began, referring to a June 5th, 2019 letter written by Governor Ige to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about the difficulty citizens of the FSM are facing in obtaining drivers licenses. Governor Ige’s letter included a request to expedite the processing of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)—a requirement for REAL ID licenses. “And thank you for hosting our citizens in your State.”

“I’m very much concerned about the REAL ID challenge,” said Governor Ige. “I’m hoping to help facilitate a solution.”

President Panuelo noted his sincere appreciation for Governor Ige’s support for citizens of the FSM living in Hawaii.

“We’re committed to doing our part,” said Governor Ige, with respect to endorsing programs and organizations that serve Micronesians in Hawaii, such as the non-profit We Are Oceania.

After discussing the FSM’s approach to beginning negotiations on the Compact of Free Association, President Panuelo said “I understand that any migrant population in any society bring with them challenges based on cultural, linguistic, financial, and other differences.”

“That includes our population of FSM citizens moving to Hawaii for education, employment, and other reasons,” President Panuelo continued. “So I want you to know that I support you and the State of Hawaii as it works to determine what it needs from Compact Impact.”

Compact Impact funding is sourced from the U.S. Department of Interior and is intended to augment U.S. communities’ capacity to serve migrants hailing from the FSM, and/or the Republic of Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, with the same quality of service, and the same dignity and respect, given to other residents.

The meeting ended on a positive note, with President Panuelo advising that, in the upcoming Micronesian Islands Forum (to be held in the State of Chuuk on July 10th-11th, 2019), he intends to address common regional issues and solicit support from all stakeholders in developing practical and satisfying solutions. President Panuelo also reminded Governor Ige that he has a standing invitation to visit the FSM when his schedule allows him to do so.

“I do want to get there [someday],” Governor Ige said.

The State of Hawaii is home to the largest community of citizens of the FSM living within the U.S., with slightly over the population of the State of Yap.