The new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ruling that migrants need to demonstrate they can financially support themselves is not in the best interest of Guam. The stipulation that migrants must be able to show sufficient means of support is not new. It has always been in the Compact of Free Association. Previously, the requirement for self-sufficiency was not enforced, much to the dismay of many people on Guam. Now it appears USCIS may have changed the enforcement policy.
This fiscal year, Guam will receive a total of $16.8 million in Compact impact funding. If all migrants are self-sufficient, then there is no Compact impact, and those funds will stop flowing to Guam.
Many migrants work at or near minimum wage jobs. Thus, they qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding. Remember, SNAP funding comes from Washington, D.C., not from local tax funds. The same applies to Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority funds. These federal funds stimulate spending on Guam. If freely associated states migrants cannot access those programs, Guam will lose these federal dollars. Take those federal funds away, and Guam’s economy may take a hit.
FAS migrants fill many of the hard-to-fill minimum wage jobs. Who will fill those jobs since minimum wage jobs often require government assistance to feed and house a family? Without a workforce willing to work for minimum wage, employers will have to pay higher wages. This will, in turn, cause prices on Guam to go higher.
In the end, those who oppose unfettered migration need to be careful of what they wish for in restricting FAS migration.
Patrick Maloney is a Yigo resident.