Introduction of a Bill Extending Eligibility for National Community Service Programs to Citizens of the Freely Associated Statesby Representative Madeleine Z. Bordallo
Posted on 2016-01-07
in the house of representatives
Thursday, January 7, 2016
Ms. BORDALLO. Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing a bill that would
enable citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of
Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, collectively referred
to as the
Freely Associated States (FAS), who reside in the United States to
participate in National Community Service (CNS) programs, including
AmeriCorps. This bill provides parity for citizens of the FAS who are
able to join our military, receive federal student aid to further their
education, and eligible to participate in other federal social
The inability for FAS citizens to participate in CNS programs has had a direct impact on individuals residing in my home district of Guam. Last year, several FAS citizens who are studying at the University of Guam and enrolled in the AmeriCorps program were removed from the program because they were found to be ineligible under the citizenship guidelines. Despite having already begun working with their assigned service organizations, these individuals were forced to find alternate accommodations through the local Guam Legislature, which appropriated local funds to cover expenses that would have otherwise been provided through the Centers for National and Community Service. I believe that this was a great injustice to these individuals, who wanted to help the people of Guam and who serve as role models for others in our community.
I believe that FAS citizens who reside in the U.S. should be allowed to participate in national service programs, just as they are able to serve our nation in military service or obtain federal student aid to further their education. My bill would specifically amend the National and Community Service Act of 1990 to include citizens of the FAS who are residing in the U.S. in the list of qualified individuals, in addition to U.S. citizens or nationals, or lawful permanent residents of the United States. The bill will ensure that any FAS citizen in the U.S. who wants to participate is not denied the opportunity to make our community better. If we can allow FAS citizens to serve in our military and protect our way of life it is only fair that we allow them to serve our local communities through community service. As we work to make the Compacts more sustainable for the affected jurisdiction, I believe that this is a good way to continue our commitment to improving our relationships with these nations.
I thank my colleagues, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Congressman Kilili Sablan for their support of this bill. I look forward to working with them to move this bill through the legislative process and having it enacted into law.