Amata Supports Real ID Act Improvements on Behalf of Freely Associated States
Washington, D.C. – This week, Congresswoman Aumua Amata supported the Real ID Act Modification for Freely Associated States Act (H.R. 3398), which she cosponsored, including a Statement for the Congressional Record urging this action. On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed this bipartisan bill to help citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia that live in the United States obtain necessary identifications and driver’s licenses.
“I’m pleased to see this change for U.S. residents from the Freely Associated States, among our nation’s closest friends and allies,” said Aumua Amata. “I lived in the RMI for eight years, and it is home to The Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, which I recently visited on a CODEL, and all three nations play a key role in U.S. national defense and strategy.”
Congresswoman Amata with RMI President Hilda Heine in the American Samoa Congressional office when she visited Washington, DC.
Amata’s Statement of Support in the Congressional Record
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my strong support for the REAL ID Act Modification for Freely Associated States Act (H.R. 3398).
When Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, no reference was made to the Freely Associated States (FAS) of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau – trusted U.S. allies and friends. Instead, in a true technical glitch, the law defined “State” to include the “Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands,” a legal entity that has once included the FAS but has not existed since 1994. This anachronistic reference to the Trust Territories of the Pacific clearly demonstrates congressional intent to include FAS citizens in the law.
As a consequence of the law’s wording, FAS citizens today are denied anything more than a temporary ID or driver’s license valid only for one year. This makes it extraordinarily difficult for them to maintain employment and otherwise contribute meaningfully to society.
This problem must be resolved and our House Dean, Congressman Don Young of Alaska and my good friend Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii have devised the right Bi-Partisan solution in crafting H.R. 3398.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia are some of the U.S.’s closest allies and great friends and neighbors in the Pacific to American Samoa. They vote with us consistently and reliably at the United Nations. They send their sons and daughters to fight with us, side by side, in the United States Armed Forces.
The RMI in particular, which was once my home, is also home to The Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, which I recently visited on a CODEL, and all three nations play a key critical role in U.S. national defense and strategy in a threatening part of the world, close to North Korea and China.
Congress needs to make this technical correction and enable those from the Freely Associated States to fully contribute to the American communities in which they live. I urge my colleagues to please vote yes on final passage of H.R. 3398.
Thank you and Soifua.
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