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The COFA treaties allow citizens from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau to live and work indefinitely in the United States.
In turn, the U.S. has total defensive control of the vast region.
The Hawaii Supreme Court building with King Kamehameha Statue and signs.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
The AP story focuses on a case involving a Marshallese man accused of shooting a woman and a police officer on the Big Island. The defendant’s right to hear his proceedings “in the Marshall Islands tongue” has led to delays in the case.
The exact number of COFA citizens in Hawaii is difficult to pin down, with recent numbers estimated to be around 15,000 to 17,000.
But that number may be higher, given what the AP has found:
“About 15,000 people in Hawaii speak Chuukese, said Robin Fritz, foreign service officer for the Federated States of Micronesia Consulate in Honolulu. The Republic of Marshall Islands Consulate in Honolulu estimates 3,000 to 4,000 people in Hawaii speak Marshallese.”
While Chuukese and Marshallese comprise most of the COFA population in Hawaii, there are others from Palau, Yap, Kosrae and Pohnpei. The total number of COFA citizens — our newest immigrant population in the islands — may be approaching 20,000.
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