Costs to house FAS citizens largely go uncompensated - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Costs to house FAS citizens largely go uncompensated

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It's been an ongoing effort for island leaders in seeking remedy for the growing and largely uncompensated costs of hosting non-immigrant residents from the Freely Associated States. And in light of recent events, leaders are looking into enforcing deportation laws already in place.

Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz says over 400 deportations have been documented and wanted to know from the federal government just how many were from Guam, for what reason and what efforts are needed on island to fix the problem. "I was surprised that I didn't get an answer," he said.

Cruz has since returned from a trip from San Francisco after meeting with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's enforcement and removal operations to address the issue head-on over the increasing burden non-immigrant FAS residents place on Guam's public services along with public safety and why the feds simply have done nothing.

He continued, "To my surprise, they told me that they weren't aware that the statute had this provision that said if you're not self-supporting for 60 days or not in school that you are deportable."

And in order to help get a grip of statistics, Cruz has since forwarded data to the feds all in hopes of swift action. "The feds have to do something, these are their invitees and they really have to take account for them because they're obviously not compensating enough the amounts we are expending for their care," he said.

Time is of the essence in moving on the deportation laws and according to Cruz a status report is expected this month on the compliance to the permanent injunction against the department of corrections relative to overcrowding in our prisons. "And if we don't get this taken care, I'm afraid that we're going to have another Layon issue to be forced to build another prison," he shared. "And my position is that first let's move all the FAS prisoners to a federal facility and then let's see how big a prison we really need to build," he said.

He adds in light of recent events and crimes involving FAS citizens, Cruz says they could have been prevented. "Had the federal government been implementing or following the law and removing individuals for the last 15 or 20 years who were not self-supportive who were not in school and moved them off island, we wouldn't have this problem now," he said.

Ultimately he says it has to be a concerted effort in working with the federal government. Lieutenant Governor Ray Tenorio meanwhile says the issue was discussed during a recent public safety meeting where he agreed it's best to work with federal counterparts in accordance with the law. "There are many people in this community who contribute to the quality of life here and there's others that do not and commit crimes and we're simply saying that if someone is here on this island taking advantage of the generosity of the people of Guam and the hospitality of our island but are ultimately violating our laws, they need to be deported," he said.

Cruz meanwhile was set to meet with governor's chief policy advisor Arthur Clark today on how to collaboratively address the issue.

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