Speaker Figir outer islands’ visit address immigration and trafficking

PALIKIR, POHNPEI. July 29, 2011 - Speaker Isaac V. Figir of the Seventeenth Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia headed a delegation to the outer islands of Yap and Chuuk highlighting the issues of immigration and human trafficking.

Beginning July 7th thru the 18th, Speaker Figir and Chairman Joseph J. Urusemal of the Committee on Education started their informal public awareness trip throughout the outlying islands of the nation where they reviewed with the citizens the immigration privileges as contained in the Compact of Free Association with the United States and addressed the issue of human trafficking. 

The first issue Speaker Figir and Chairman Urusemal addressed was the necessity for people to understand the immigration privileges the citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia enjoy under the Compact of Free Association with the United States. Citizens of the FSM may enter the U.S. to engage in lawful employment and for education. Education gained in the U.S. was to help people of the FSM to gain the knowledge and skills to promote the development of its states and the FSM as a whole.

The individuals residing in the U.S. for employment should work and gain a skill for themselves. Individuals who benefited from education and training in the United States should return to the FSM and give back to their country in the future. Both congressmen emphasized that any FSM citizens living in the U.S. should be able to support themselves.

Speaker Figir and Chairman Urusemal stated that all FSM citizens residing in the United States should take care to be productive, educated and law abiding residents during their stay. Particularly, parents were asked to encourage their sons and daughters studying in the United States to concentrate on their studies and complete their educations. In the past students have left their studies to pursue employment but have ultimately not earned enough money working to remain in the United States independently.

The second issue Speaker Figir and Chairman Urusemal addressed was human trafficking. They stressed that human trafficking, and the conditions that victims are subjected to, such as forced labor, including prostitution, are taken very seriously by the national government leaders.

It was explained that the opportunity to exploit individuals in this way often arises when people seek employment overseas. Victims are often promised higher salaries for jobs such as planting and harvesting fruit and vegetables when in reality the hours worked are much longer and the working conditions very poor. It was advised that individuals being recruited to work abroad be cautious when accepting positions and check the references of any potential employer.

It was disclosed that at present the Federated States of Micronesia is not a party to the United Nations 2000 UN Traffic In Persons Protocol regarding prevention of human trafficking. The FSM has recently been placed on the U.S. State Department's Tier 3 list designating it as a country that has failed to meet the minimum standards to eliminate trafficking.

It is important for the FSM to implement laws and support structures sufficient to prevent human trafficking. Speaker Figir and Chairman Urusemal assured attendees at the public meetings that work will be done to further educate and protect citizens.

Speaker Figir stated that the Congress will be working on national laws to safeguard the people, and he stressed that it was important to have the FSM accede to the 2000 UN Traffic In Persons Protocol.

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