25 Jun 2012

Growing number of Marshallese being sent home from US

8:25 am on 25 June 2012

Growing numbers of Marshall Islanders are being deported home from the United States as federal security tightens.

While Marshallese have visa free access to America, immigration authorities are alerted if they are convicted of any crimes.

Our correspondent Giff Johnson says the Marshall Islands Ambassador to Washington, Charles Paul, says people should seek legal help to navigate the system, as the government cannot intercede in deportation proceedings.

Giff Johnson says Marshallese are hindered in exercising their basic rights due to language and cultural barriers.

He says many people are unaware drunken assaults meet the classification of 'moral turpitude' on which deportation hinges.

He says the deported Marshallese are escorted by US Federal Police to the departure lounge in Honolulu.

"Then they arrive on the plane and these are mostly young men in their twenties and thirties who are coming back and many of whom haven't been here for quite a while. For a lot of them it's just a huge wake up call because they had no clue that something like this was going to happen to them."