COFA Migrants And Our National Security
Since 1986, the Compacts of Free Association (COFA) have defined the relationship between the United States
and the independent governments of the Freely Associated States (FAS) including: the Republic of the Marshall
Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau. Under the Compact, in exchange for
permitting the U.S. exclusive use and military strategic positioning in the Pacific, the U.S. provides grants to fund
education, health care, and infrastructure in the FAS. Maintaining good relationships with the FAS is imperative
to our national security as other countries seek to grow their influence in the Pacific region.
The Compacts also permit citizens of the FAS broad migration privileges to the U.S. and its territories. Known
collectively as “COFA migrants” when they enter the U.S., the Compacts allow citizens of the FAS to apply for
admission to the U.S. as “non-immigrants” and without visa requirements. Currently there are at least 56,000
migrants from the COFA nations legally residing, working and studying in the U.S.1 These COFA migrants pay taxes
and play a role in driving our economy, but are not eligible for many of the programs that their tax dollars support.