Please excuse my ignorance, but I’ve never heard of such a large immigrant population from the Pacific.
Why are they here? Were they relocated due to nuclear testing, or what?
There are lots of Pacific Islanders who have moved to the US, and I expect that they tend to group together. (I knew somebody whose husband was from Tonga, and there was a large community of them in town.)
In 1986, a compact was created between the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The compact granted the Marshall Islands — the site of numerous nuclear tests between 1947 and 1962 — its sovereignty and allowed the U.S. to continue maintaining a missile test site at the Kwajalein Atoll.
The compact also allows citizens of the Marshall Islands to live and work in the United States without being subject to U.S. immigration laws, but they are ineligible for Medicare, non-emergency Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and most other forms of federally-funded public assistance.
Diseases such as tuberculosis and leprosy are alarmingly common among Marshallese immigrants, yet many are unable to afford treatment, according to Pritchard.
“Very often they do not come in for some help until the disease has (caused) very serious physical symptoms and is very far advanced,” he said. “So you can imagine the time bomb that we’re sitting on here with ... 6,000-8,000 folks freely traveling in and out of this country and in and out of the state, that when we have an outbreak of serious disease, it is going to be a state health problem.”
Deputy State Health Officer Dr. Joe Bates testified that between 2000 and 2005, Northwest Arkansas had nine cases of congenital syphilis, six of which involved Marshallese; 38 people with infectious syphilis, 21 of whom were Marshallese; and eight cases of leprosy, all Marshallese.
Bates said the rate of leprosy in the Marshall Islands is the highest in the world, yet no survey has been done to determine the extent of the disease in among Marshallese immigrants in Arkansas.
Well, maybe I can answer the question with a photo of Bikini Atoll, Republic of Marshall Islands:
“Why are they here? Were they relocated due to nuclear testing, or what?”
They’re here because the doors to the candy store are wide open.