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US extends free legal services coverage to resident Micronesians

[JURIST] Micronesian Legal Service Corporation (LSC) [official website] attorney Omar Calimbas said Tuesday that beginning October 15, 2007, the US will permit Micronesians living on the US mainland to receive free legal aid services. The decision will change a 1983 US Congressional act that prevented the representation of aliens, with the exception of certain documented persons, as a condition of US federal LSC funding. LSC regulations were amended [Federal Register text] on September 14, and will now allow citizens of Micronesia both on US mainland and in Micronesia to obtain free legal services from the organization.

The Micronesian LSC, which is partially funded by the US federal government, provides free legal services to indigents and distributes funding to nonprofit legal aid organizations. According to the 2000 US Census [PDF text], there are approximately 400,000 Pacific Islanders living in the United States. Calimbas said that many of these people are living in the US in order to support their families in the various islands and that the lifting of the ban will indirectly help in that support. The Saipan Tribune has more.

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