Looking back, forward for Marshallese families in Arkansas

Today in Arkansas we mark Nuclear Remembrance Day, to raise awareness of the nuclear tests that the United States conducted in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and to honor our nations’ shared history.

Sponsored by the Marshallese Educational Initiative, this day is a reminder of one the reasons that thousands of Marshallese people now call Arkansas home. The nuclear tests in the 1940s and 50s displaced thousands of people, changed the economy of the Islands and eventually resulted in the U.S. government entering into a compact that allows Marshallese people to live and work freely in the United States.

We at Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families are working to ensure that Marshallese families in Arkansas have the opportunities they need to live up to their full potential. That includes children’s access to a high-quality education and to health services.

Did you know that children born in the Marshall Islands don’t have access to ARKids First health insurance? This is true even though they are lawfully residing here and even though the federal government would fund the cost as if those children were citizens. AACF has been working for years to change that, and we could use your help to make the case.

We pointed out that disparity, among others facing children of immigrants in Arkansas, in our 2012 report Critical Generation. We continue to work on this issue with lawmakers and other decision makers at the state Capitol.

As Faith Jibas says in this video, today is a chance to remember that people from the Marshall Islands have helped the United States. It’s time we acknowledge the sacrifices they made for our nation’s security.

It’s time people understand “how the Marshall Islands played a key role in America being the superpower that it is today,” Jibas said. “They can understand that we have history together. That we gave to America… We’re not just taking from Americans.”