HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo has proposed five options to save the Chamorro Land Trust program, which has been challenged in court by the federal government.
The U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit claims the local government violated the federal Fair Housing Act “for discriminating against non-Chamorros,” the Pacific Daily News reported .
The Chamorro Land Trust program aims to hold public land for indigenous Chamorros, who can lease 1-acre tracts for $1 a year for 99 years. The Land Trust Commission also leases land for commercial use to non-Chamorros.
The federal government sued after a Caucasian Tamuning resident earlier this year filed a complaint with federal housing officials, stating he was prohibited from applying for a lease under the Chamorro Land Trust.
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Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson has said the government of Guam will not compromise on the issue and plans to have the matter settled in court.
Bordallo’s letter to Gov. Eddie Calvo and Speaker Benjamin Cruz on Monday provided options to save the program that include mimicking other federal programs in Hawaii and Alaska, or creating a Chamorro tribe.
The first is to model a new federal law on the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, which allows the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to provide long-term leases at nominal cost to Native Hawaiians for homesteading.
The second is to federalize the Chamorro Land Trust Act, which would give it status under federal law.
The third option is remodeling the Chamorro Land Trust after the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which allowed Alaska Native corporations to own and manage land for the exclusive benefit of their shareholders: Alaska’s indigenous people, Bordallo wrote in the letter.
The fourth option is to give federal tribal recognition for Guam’s Chamorro people — something that already has been proposed by Democrat Sen. Michael San Nicolas in a resolution.
The fifth option is to seek a Fair Housing Act exemption for the Chamorro Land Trust, which would address the violations local government is accused of.
Bordallo said island leaders need to reach a consensus about what to do with the Chamorro Land Trust.
“I will introduce legislation that reflects this consensus, and I have always believed that we have the best chance of success when we present a unified, ‘One Guam’ position,” Bordallo said.