DOJ investigating Guam's land use policies
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Following a complaint filed by Arnold Davis, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether Guam's land use policies and practices discriminate on the basis of race or national origin in violation of the Fair Housing Act. In a letter to Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas, U.S.DOJ Housing and Civil Enforcement Section Chief Steven Rosenbaum states that there has not been a determination yet whether there has been a violation of the FHA by the local government.
Rosenbaum states that the investigation focuses specifically on whether the Chamorro Land Trust Commission and its administrative director discriminates on the basis of race or national origin by limiting certain housing-related benefits to persons who are "native Chamorros". Davis alleges he was unlawfully denied a residential lease of land subject to the Chamorro Land Trust Act because he is not Chamorro.
The U.S. DOJ wants the AG to provide information and documentation regarding any person whose application for a lease of CLTC Land has been denied, whether for failing to qualify as a native Chamorro or otherwise, over the last five years. Davis, meanwhile also filed a civil suit in the District Court alleging the political status plebiscite is discriminatory as well as he was not allowed to register to vote.
The parties are waiting on the District Court chief judge to make a decision in the case, as Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan has recommended that Davis' lawsuit be dismissed.
The Attorney General's Office meanwhile is in receipt of the letter and is expected to comply and respond accordingly.
CLTC administrator and Department of Land Management director Monte Mafnas says he believes the law that created the Chamorro Land Trust Act is constitutional and organic, saying it isn't discriminatory because anyone who was living on Guam before August 1950 is eligible to lease CLTC land. Mafnas adds he was unaware of the ongoing investigation but will comply with whatever information must be turned over.