HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – There are roughly 16,680 Compact of Free Association migrants living in Hawaii.
That’s according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which recently released new numbers pertaining to COFA migrants in Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and America Samoa.
The new number is up more than 2,000 from 2013 and 4,400 from 2008.
Guam had the majority of COFA migrants in 2018 at 18,874.
Earlier this week, Hawaii received more than $14 million in federal funding tied to the increasing population of COFA migrants.
Under the COFA agreement, citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau are eligible to live, work and study in the U.S. without visa requirements.
The United States’ involvement with these islands dates back to World War II, when the islands became nuclear testing sites. Between 1946 and 1958, the U.S. dropped the equivalent of more than 7,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs in the Marshall Islands. The atolls became radioactive and uninhabitable, forcing the local people to relocate.
In 1986, the United States signed COFA agreements with the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Island. Palau was later added in 1994.