Community News

Rep. Katie Porter Secures First-of-its-kind Grant for Orange County Marshallese-American Community

 
by: Lindsay Reilly
Posted: September 20, 2021

 

IRVINE...Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) today announced $500,000 in federal funding for Marshallese Youth of Orange County (MYOC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping first-generation Marshallese Americans get health care, education, and employment. The grant, which will be allocated by the Department of the Interior Office of Insular Affairs Technical Assistance Program (TAP), is the first of its kind for a Southern California organization. 

"Orange County is blessed to be home to one of the first Marshallese communities in the United States, but their reason for coming here reflects a disgraceful chapter in our nation's history," said Congresswoman Katie Porter. "It's been 75 years since the U.S. first detonated nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands. We still have work to do to help right this wrong, and I'm proud to do my part by securing this critical funding for our local Marshallese community."

"What a monumental gain this has been for not only Marshallese Youth of Orange County (MYOC), but for the Marshallese Community here in Orange County," said MYOC Founder and Director Kelani Silk. "We thank our sister Organizations; Pacific Islander Health Partnership (PIHP), SoCal Pacific Islander COVID Response Team (SoCal PICRT), Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Alliance (NHPIA), and all of our other partners for their guidance and support throughout this pandemic. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Congresswoman Katie Porter and her staff for assisting in the continuance of their support, we, MYOC are humbled, grateful and blessed. Komol tata."

From 1946 to 1958, the United States conducted 67 atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands, with explosive yield equivalent to roughly 1.6 Hiroshima-sized bombs every day for 12 years. The damage and displacement from these tests helped drive Marshallese migration to the United States, including to Orange County. 

In 1986, the U.S. government created the Nuclear Claims Tribunal to provide relief to Marshallese Americans hurt by America's nuclear legacy, but provided less than 10% of the money owed. The Marshallese were also barred from Medicaid from 1996 to 2020 due to a legislative drafting error, despite an agreement that all Marshallese Americans would have access to the program.

Porter is dedicated to promoting the well-being of Orange County's AAPI community. She has repeatedly urged her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pursue justice on behalf of the Marshallese burdened by the nuclear legacy of the United States. In June, she secured legislative language directing the Department of Energy to increase radiological monitoring and community engagement in the Marshall Islands. She has also repeatedly denounced the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic, including during a rally in Irvine and at a town hall she hosted in March.

 

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