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NOTE: The following are excerpts from the Governor’s State of the Island Address

‘The problem isn’t where immigrants come from…the problem is poverty’

It’s one thing for a society to face poverty caused by its own conditions. Things get more complicated when poverty migrates in. It is estimated that over a third of the new families on food stamps in the last three years are FAS immigrants. I don’t believe that the solution is to refuse services and hospitality to our neighbors. We are connected, my dear people. We can look at the present problem and see only that the great demand for welfare by FAS immigrants is a burden that weighs down Guam. Or we can consider, with foresight, that our educated Chuukese brother can open businesses with our sister from Saipan. And that Chamorros and Filipinos from Guam can collaborate with our Palauan and Yapese brothers and sisters on disease prevention.

            Would there be such tension on Guam if FAS immigrants did not live in poverty, or were not so prone to crime? I don’t think so. The problem isn’t where immigrants come from or what race they are. The problem is poverty.

The U.S. has a history of forgetting responsibility to Micronesia

            Right after the World War II, a stubborn and proud Chamorro clerk at the Naval Bank of Guam confronted his supervisor about his paycheck. He noticed that it was far less than his co-workers, who were originally from the mainland. The supervisor brought the complaint up the ranks, and the answer was, “Sorry, we can’t help you.” So the man quit the security of his job.

            About a decade later, another young Chamorro man tried to enlist in the Marines to serve on the frontlines. They told him he had to stay at the bottom of the heap, and he replied, “I don’t want that. I want to lead.” So, the young man went off to college. After he got his degree, Ben Blaz commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps, served valiantly in war, became a General, and served as our Congressman.

            As for the bank clerk who quit his job, he went home and asked his wife for some help. She got a cardboard box for her husband to organize the paper policies he began selling by himself… from their living room. And that box is where Jake Calvo founded Calvo’s Insurance.

            The moral of these stories is that, whether his intentions were good or bad, Uncle Sam has a habit of forgetting his stated obligations to the Micronesian islands he saw fit to administer and use for geopolitical reasons. In other words, rather than waiting around for that $1 billion in impact bills… or for the U.S. government to finally build those schools in our neighboring islands, let’s just band together as Micronesians and take care of these problems on our own two feet.


We’re not victims, we ARE Micronesians

            We’re not victims of circumstance. We ARE Micronesians. We have it within us to build a strong region, where all of us contribute to each other’s success. Twenty years ago would have been a good time for the U.S. government to build those schools and roads that could have paved the way for a very different region today. But we shouldn’t wait another 20 years before we take it upon ourselves to do something about it. I cannot imagine what crime and poverty will look like if we let that happen.


            I am well aware that many of our guests are tearing at the fabric of our society with their crimes. It is true that a great number of burglaries, assaults and sex crimes are being committed by a disproportionate number of FAS immigrants. Sadly, their crimes are but a fraction of those committed by our own local citizens. No matter what their citizenship is, I want to deport every rapist, murderer, child abuser, and wife beater to the bottom of the Marianas Trench. We don’t need division. We cannot address evil deeds with hateful hearts.

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