Mission and Purpose
COFA Alliance National Network (CANN) is an Oregon based non-profit organization that is dedicated to advocating for the people of the three Pacific Island nations (Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia) that have a unique Compact or treaty with the United States. The treaty is called the Compact of Free Association. The primary goal of the organization is to seek social and economic justice under the law for all COFA residents in Oregon and throughout the 50 states and its territories.
The three COFA nations are The Republic of Palau, The Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia. CANN is focused on educating Oregonians and Americans about the many issues confronting COFA people residing in the United States.
Compact of Free Association
“COFA” is an acronym for Compact of Free Association, a reciprocal treaty established between The Republic of Palau (ROP), The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the United States (US). The treaty took effect in the 1980’s and allows the United States to operate armed forces in our states, demand land for operating military bases, and grant or withhold permission to other countries’ militaries to operate on our lands.
It also created a unique immigration status for people from COFA nations: we can travel to, live, and work in the United States without visas or green cards. While the Marshallese and Palauan citizens may possess dual citizenships with the United States, FSM citizens cannot.
Many of us proudly serve in the United States military, and do so at a higher rate per capita than Americans. And originally, the treaty allowed those of us who were income-eligible to access federal assistance programs such as Medicaid. Yet, 1996 federal welfare reform law deemed us ineligible for Medicaid and federal assistance programs, creating waves of barriers to health and opportunity.
History of CANN
CANN was formed in 2014 by Chris Ogo, Kianna and Jesper Angelo, Loyd Henion, and David Anitok, to meet the need to put a spotlight the social and economic injustices that were being borne by the people of the three Pacific Island countries living in the United States.
All founders had all been associated, in one way or another, with existing organizations that were representing Asian and Pacific Islanders living in Oregon, but none of these were specifically organized around COFA.
Earlier, in 2013, CANN’s founding members had already begun the work of restoring social and economic justice to Oregon’s COFA residents. The passage of HB 2517 reversed the one year only Driver’s License limit on Oregon’s COFA residents. Enactment of the bill meant that Oregon’s COFA residents could live here more freely, as a vital impediment to everyday life was removed.
The need for to remove the Driver’s License and Health Care inequities for the COFA people was seen to be so urgent that the CANN founders saw that a 501c4 was preferred, as intentional, directed lobbying was needed in order to get reform laws passed. The goal was to concentrate efforts in Oregon before launching a national campaign.
As a new organization, CANN understood that it was critical to work in unity with the other well-established organizations serving the Asian and Pacific Islanders. Working together with other organizations CANN was successful in garnering passage of the HB 4071 in 2016 (COFA Premium Healthcare Assistance program).