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Falemavaega looks at reforming immigration laws to help stateless persons

fili@samoanews.com

In an effort to make sure there’s no repeat of what happened to stateless man Mikhail Sebastian, Congressman Faleomavaega Eni is looking at pushing for the reform of federal immigration law to address the status of stateless persons living in the United States.

Sebastian, who has been stranded in American Samoa for more than a year, asked the congressman to “do anything possible in your power to convince the U.S. Congress to add special legislation in our comprehensive immigration reform dealing with stateless individuals in the United States.”

Asked last week for his response to Sebastian’s request, Faleomavaega said Saturday that he will issue an official statement by Tuesday regarding the matter. Sebastian forwarded to Samoa News his correspondence with the congressman.

In it, Faleomavaega told Sebastian that he’s happy to hear the good news that Sebastian is being allowed back into the United States. He revealed that his staff is working on “language in the upcoming reform immigration bill to include some 4,000 stateless persons now living in the US… i.e., to legalize their stay and for eventual citizenship if this is what they want.”

Meanwhile, Sebastian is awaiting permission to enter Samoa so he can obtain his travel documents that were sent to the US embassy in Apia by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The documents are his ticket to re-enter the US.

However he has hit a snag with the Samoa Government.

Immigration officials there want an official letter of explanation from the U.S. government explaining why Sebastian has to enter the independent state and why the travel documents were not sent directly American Samoa.

Sebastian told Samoa News that the US embassy is now working with the Samoa Government “to coordinate my entry to Apia so I can pick up my travel document. But I do not know how long this would take.”

He said Hawaiian Airlines has agreed to reissue his old expired ticket and waive their fees to fly him back to Los Angeles, where he had been living for over a decade before he made his fateful trip to the territory.

Sebastian expressed frustration that he’s still facing difficulties even after being granted permission to re-enter the US almost two weeks ago.

“This is really crazy. I have been approved now and still having a difficult time getting out of American Samoa and having my travel documents handy,” he said over the weekend.

“The US Embassy does not want to send my travel documents by courier, they do not want anyone to pick it up for me and bring it to American Samoa, they do not want to send some working personnel from the Embassy to American Samoa to hand me my travel documents. How then should I get it? It is absurd.”

It’s unknown when the Samoa Government will grant Sebastian permission to enter Samoa so he can collect his travel documents.
 



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