Marshallese Community Fêtes Constitution Day

July 22, 2016 10:30 am
by David Jakeman

The United State has a long history of immigration. It also has a long history of tensions between newcomers and more established communities. That’s even in the case of Hawaii, which is perceived as a more laid-back and welcoming environment. The recent influx of Marshallese and other Pacific islanders arriving in the country has created tensions. A recent constitutional celebration at the Kealakehe High School was an effort to temper some of those tensions and help Micronesian immigrants feel more welcome.

Marshallese Immigrant History

Hawaiian immigration attorneys often have the opportunity to help Micronesian immigrants arriving on the islands. The Marshall Islands and the United States have a long and complicated history. Allied Forces controlled the islands during the Second World War, and the United States would later carry out nuclear weapon testing in the region. The results were devastating for many of the Marshallese, both in making their homelands uninhabitable and in dramatic health effects.

Many were exposed to radiation that led to a number of cancers, especially thyroid cancer. Marshallese immigrants used to be eligible for Medicare no matter their age or gender, but since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, that has not been the case. Only women and young children now qualify. These challenges to access to healthcare have compounded the already challenging transition to new life in Hawaii.

Local Tensions Flare

The past decade, as many Hawaii immigration attorneys are well aware, has seen a significant uptick in Micronesian immigrants into Hawaii. Such an influx boiled over in tensions at the local high school, where fierce verbal and physical arguments broke out in 2012 between Micronesian students and those of other backgrounds.

In order to tamp down heated rhetoric and misunderstanding, a number of community outreach efforts were made. Things had gotten so bad that the school was locked down and was even cancelled at some point. Work was done to help local community members to know why the Marshallese immigrants had come to Hawaii, as well as to help Marshallese immigrants with their transition.

The recent celebration held at the high school where all these problems had broken out is a sign that things are hopefully improving. On the whole, observers believe that is the case.1 Hawaii immigration lawyers are also good at outreach and helping immigrants making the transition to life in the United States. Understanding the complicated history and developments is a key part of making immigrants feel safe, especially when they and their predecessors suffered so much under the hubris of American nuclear testing.

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