FSM Puts Up New Barriers For Guam In Attempt To Repatriate Convicts

FSM Consulate in Guam no longer allowed to verify citizenship of Compact migrants set for removal

By Shawn Raymundo

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Sept. 7, 2016) – The Federated States of Micronesia's national government no longer will provide assistance locally when Gov. Eddie Calvo wants to remove migrant convicts from Guam, but Calvo on Wednesday said the nation's shift in policy will not stop his plans.

Calvo so far has commuted the prison sentences of five migrant convicts from Chuuk State in the FSM, in exchange for a one-way ticket home and their promise never to return to Guam. His actions are in response to criticism locally that the U.S. government is not doing enough to deport migrant criminals.

Last month, the government of the FSM imposed a new procedure, requiring the Calvo administration to provide additional information and to deal directly with the FSM government in Pohnpei instead of the local consulate.

Since June, the local government has asked the FSM Consulate office in Guam to verify the citizenship of migrant convicts who have been considered for removal, FSM Consul General Robert Ruecho noted in a letter to Calvo last month.

Ruecho stated he is no longer authorized to make such a determination and instructed the Calvo administration to send all verification requests to the Division of Immigration and Labor of the Department of Justice in Palikir, Pohnpei.

“Although I have previously provided information to the government of Guam certifying that the individuals in question are FSM citizens, I can no longer do so,” Ruecho wrote. “As such, any future requests that are made by the government of Guam to the FSM Consulate in Guam to certify an individual’s citizenship will, in turn, be transmitted to the FSM national government."

The information about the potential deportee must include a color photograph; his or her fingerprints; prison and relevant court records; medical records; the governor’s pardon or commutation order; the written agreement with GovGuam; proof of attorney services; and the proposed travel itinerary.

Once that information is submitted, the FSM government “will respond accordingly” to the verification request, Ruecho wrote. He also noted that until the federal government weighs in on the current situation, the procedure would remain in place.

“They have put in what I can see is bureaucratic red tape to either slow down the process or stop it,” Calvo said. “And I can assure you it ain’t going to stop it on my side.”

Adelup announced this past weekend that Calvo had also commuted the sentences of two convicted criminals who are non-U.S. citizens and who were handed over to federal officials for possible deportation. Their commutation is dependent upon their being deported.

“Bottom line for me is ensuring the safety of the people of Guam,” Calvo said at his office in Adelup on Wednesday. “Obviously, I want to take pressures off the prison to lower the prison population – there is an economic rationale for that as well. But more importantly to keeping the people of Guam safe.”

“I’m deeply disappointed from the actions of the officials from the Federated States of Micronesia,” Calvo said, adding: "I see no other rationale behind it other than they do not want them back."

The governor also stated that he was perplexed as to why the FSM would make a separate class of citizens, noting that identifying the citizenship of any other individual isn’t as rigorous compared to the list of records and information being asked of the convicted criminals.

“If there was a fellow Chamorro that was languishing in a foreign prison and the head of that country or someone in the position of power gave them commutation and paid the ticket to their home country such as Guam, I would welcome them back,” Calvo said.

“For whatever mistakes and harm they did in the foreign country, I would try to incorporate that Chamorro back to Guam and see what we can do to turn his life around, whether it’s reconciling with his family or looking toward rehabilitation,” the governor added.

Pacific Daily News
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