3 Apr 2008

Marshalls to pressure US for service access

4:32 pm on 3 April 2008

The Marshall Islands is vowing to keep pressure on the United States government to ensure its citizens have access to federal services.

A Hawaii state senator, Kalani English, says American states are footing a bill for hundreds of millions of dollars for services to migrants from U.S.-affiliated islands in the Pacific - which the federal Government should be paying for.

The Marshalls Foreign Minister, Tony de Brum, says the US needs to increase the funds it makes available to the states, or make Marshallese citizens eligible for federal programmes.

"If the idea of allowing Marshallese citizens to enter the United States was to provide for some of the short falls of the territorial administration this is not doing the trick, because it is causing additional problems, not only to the so-called migrants, but also to the community where they reside."

Tony de Brum says the Marshalls is in the process of setting up a consulate general in Arkansas, where there is a large Marshallese population, to deal with problems of eligibility there.