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Deny accusations of U.S. welfare abuse

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, May 31, 2011) - The US ambassador to the Marshall Islands says local people want to change the perception that Marshallese who go to live in the United States are a drain on the welfare and medical systems.

This comes as a group of senators urges the government to consider adopting a screening process for immigrants from the Marshall Islands, Palau and FSM.

Ambassador Martha Campbell says Hawaii’s lawmakers have been especially vocal about the cost to the US of the open door policy for freely associated states.

"They’ve made some estimates for how much they strain the welfare system and the medical healthcare services there. The Marshall Islands is very aware of the perception that the Marshallese are a burden on the American states that they go to and they want to avoid that at all costs."

[PIR editor’s note: The Compact of Free Association between the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau with the U.S. gives citizens of the associated states the right to travel, work, and live freely in the United States.]

Martha Campbell says the Marshall Islands is looking at ways to prepare those who go to live in the US to know what to expect when they get there.

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