Special Report

The Micronesians

About the Series

Micronesians are leaving their home islands by the tens of thousands and coming to the U.S. This special report follows that journey and examines the effect it’s having on the communities in which they are settling.
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An Untold Story of American Immigration Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

Chapter 1: An Untold Story of American Immigration

First we nuked their islands and then we took control of the whole region. In exchange, Micronesians can move to the U.S. without restriction. And they are coming  — by the tens of thousands — for health care, education and jobs.
‘A Journey That Has No Ending’ U.S. Department of Defense

Chapter 2: ‘A Journey That Has No Ending’

Most Americans have never even heard of the Compact of Free Association, but that may change as federal aid runs out, raising urgent questions about our moral, financial and legal responsibility to Micronesians.
The Odyssey of Jonithen Jackson Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Chapter 3: The Odyssey of Jonithen Jackson

This "nuclear nomad" just wants to go home. Except home is a contaminated atoll 2,000 miles away.
Health Care: Migration Is Often a Matter of Survival Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

Chapter 4: Health Care: Migration Is Often a Matter of Survival

Diabetes and cancer are rampant throughout Micronesia, largely thanks to the legacy of nuclear tests and Western culture. But most islands lack adequate medical facilities, making migration a necessity.
Climate Change: ‘The Single Greatest Threat To Our Existence’ Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

Chapter 5: Climate Change: ‘The Single Greatest Threat To Our Existence’

Rising tides and changing ecosystems are destroying the subsistence lifestyle on many islands in Micronesia. If disease and a sinking economy don't drive residents away, global warming just might.
Jobs And The Economy: It’s Only Going To Get Worse Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

Chapter 6: Jobs And The Economy: It’s Only Going To Get Worse

The U.S. has been funneling billions of dollars to Micronesian nations since 1986. That money is very likely going to dry up in just eight years. Then what?
The New Kids On The Block: A ‘Hidden Minority’ Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

Chapter 7: The New Kids On The Block: A ‘Hidden Minority’

The Micronesian diaspora has spread out across the country, but many Americans still don't realize who their new neighbors are.

Multimedia

SLIDESHOW: Hawaii and Guam Cory Lum/Civil Beat

SLIDESHOW: Hawaii and Guam

Hawaii and Guam are feeling the effects of thousands of Micronesian immigrants relocating in search of jobs, education and health care. But with the burden on social services comes a rich cultural contribution.
SLIDESHOW: Chuuk Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

SLIDESHOW: Chuuk

The poorest of the nations in the Federated States of Micronesia, Chuuk is also one of the largest sources of out-migration.
SLIDESHOW: Ebeye and Majuro Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

SLIDESHOW: Ebeye and Majuro

Nuclear testing took a heavy toll on the Marshall Islands in the 1940s and '50s, and health effects remain. Today, the low-lying atolls are threatened by climate change.
SLIDESHOW: Pohnpei And Kosrae Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

SLIDESHOW: Pohnpei And Kosrae

Pohnpei and Kosrae are two places where the residents live simple rural lifestyles, with fishing and farming as a way of life. But many people also struggle with alcohol and drug abuse and U.S. dollars do little to help pay for services.
SLIDESHOW: Mainland Diaspora Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

SLIDESHOW: Mainland Diaspora

The Micronesian exodus is taking tens of thousands of people to communities throughout the U.S. By some estimates, 30 percent of those in the Pacific region have left their home countries, with about half of the immigrants now living on the mainland.
‘That’s JoJo — He’s Different’ Cory Lum/Civil Beat

‘That’s JoJo — He’s Different’

PODCAST: JoJo Peter is a disabled Micronesian in Hawaii. Those misunderstood labels have given him a powerful position to bring about positive change.
Yes, You Can Be A Micronesian And A Doctor Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Yes, You Can Be A Micronesian And A Doctor

PODCAST: Oahu physician Sheldon Riklon is an inspiration for Micronesians and an epiphany for others.

Ongoing Coverage

The Untimely Death Of A Marshall Islands Visionary Hilary Hosia

The Untimely Death Of A Marshall Islands Visionary

Author Jon Letman sat down with Mattlan Zackhras last year for a wide-ranging conversation on his vision and hope for the tiny island nation.

Census To Count Micronesians In Hawaii, US Territories Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

Census To Count Micronesians In Hawaii, US Territories

The number of  COFA migrants will determine how much the money the regions receive to compensate for health care, education and other costs. 

Feds Offer An Additional $3 Million To Help Ease Impact Of Micronesian Migration Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Feds Offer An Additional $3 Million To Help Ease Impact Of Micronesian Migration

Hawaii will receive an additional $1.27 million on top of an annual payment of $12.6 million, but the costs of serving the immigrants is far higher.

Court Rejects Marshall Islands’ Suit Against US Over Nuclear Treaty Wikimedia Commons

Court Rejects Marshall Islands’ Suit Against US Over Nuclear Treaty

The lawsuit sought to force the U.S. to comply with an international treaty on nuclear nonproliferation.

Micronesia Hires DC Lobbyists

Micronesia Hires DC Lobbyists

The Federated States of Micronesia wants legal and political help regarding COFA.

One-Stop Centers For Micronesians Fight Back Amid Criticism Cory Lum/Civil Beat

One-Stop Centers For Micronesians Fight Back Amid Criticism

UPDATED 12/2/2016: Supporters say the program helps immigrants acclimate, rather than encouraging them to drain public resources.

Chinese ‘Mega Resort’ For Yap? Yap Visitors Bureau

Chinese ‘Mega Resort’ For Yap?

Local leaders fear that residents will be "shunted from their homes" and "reduced to just doing cultural dances" for tourists.

Drought Disaster In Marshall Islands Chad Blair/Civil Beat

Drought Disaster In Marshall Islands

President Obama issues declaration allowing FEMA to provide emergency relief to the archipelago.
US Senate Bill Calls For $137 Million In Aid To COFA Nation of Palau Flickr: LuxTonnerre

US Senate Bill Calls For $137 Million In Aid To COFA Nation of Palau

Two other COFA nations “face challenges” in achieving self-sufficiency, the Government Accountability Office reports.
Murkowski Wants US-Palau Deal Courtesy of LuxTonnerre via Flickr

Murkowski Wants US-Palau Deal

The Republican senator from Alaska has introduced legislation co-sponsored by Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.
Nuclear Victims: Will We Help Vets Who Cleaned Up After Atomic Blasts? U.S. Department of Energy

Nuclear Victims: Will We Help Vets Who Cleaned Up After Atomic Blasts?

Hawaii Congressman Mark Takai pushes to compensate military personnel exposed to radioactive soil and debris in the Marshall Islands.

U.S. Territories Criticize United Airlines Chad Blair/Civil Beat

U.S. Territories Criticize United Airlines

The attorneys general from Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands say the airlines' service "has declined beyond what we ever could have imagined."
Help For Micronesia ‘Atomic Veterans’ U.S. Defense Special Weapons Agency

Help For Micronesia ‘Atomic Veterans’

Hawaii Rep. Mark Takai wants to extend benefits to veterans who helped clean up Micronesia nuclear contamination.
Congress Needs To Stop Passing The Buck On Micronesia Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

Congress Needs To Stop Passing The Buck On Micronesia

With the out-migration expected to get much worse in the next eight years, U.S. leaders need to amend the COFA treaty. But Hawaii also needs to prepare itself to handle the influx.
A Marshallese Poet Speaks Out On Climate Change

A Marshallese Poet Speaks Out On Climate Change

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner traveled halfway across the Earth to read her poem on how climate change is affecting her island home to the United Nations.
The Faces of Micronesia Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

The Faces of Micronesia

Photographer Mark Edward Harris traveled throughout Micronesia and captured some of the many intriguing faces of the islands.
Help Sought for Bikini Islanders Wikimedia Commons

Help Sought for Bikini Islanders

U.S. Senate and House leadership is urged to allow the people of Bikini to use resettlement funds to relocate outside of the Marshall Islands.

The Projector: The Micronesians Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

The Projector: The Micronesians

From Majuro to Honolulu, Micronesians as seen through the lenses of Civil Beat photographers.
Congress Needs to Fix a Medicaid Flaw That Excludes Legal Immigrants Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Congress Needs to Fix a Medicaid Flaw That Excludes Legal Immigrants

The federal government is failing to live up to our treaty obligations to Micronesian immigrants -- leaving Hawaii to bear the burden.
The Story Behind ‘The Micronesians’ Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

The Story Behind ‘The Micronesians’

Micronesians are coming to the U.S. in large numbers, tapping taxpayers for heath care and social services. We wanted to find out why.
Join Us Oct. 27 for a Micronesia Storytelling Event

Join Us Oct. 27 for a Micronesia Storytelling Event

The first Hawaii Storytellers event focuses on stories of Micronesian immigration.
‘The Micronesians’: A Civil Beat Special Report Coming Wednesday Mark Edward Harris/Civil Beat

‘The Micronesians’: A Civil Beat Special Report Coming Wednesday

Micronesians are leaving their island homes in search of better lives in the U.S., and many are coming to Hawaii.