Utu: No ASPA employees laid off based on PA status
ASPA Executive Director Utu Abe Malae dispels rumors that employees holding PA statuses have been laid off from employment at ASPA.
Utu told Samoa News that the semi-autonomous agency has not terminated any employees but they are reviewing the immigration status of all their employees.
“We are concerned that employees ineligible for employment may have gotten past the ASPA Human Resources gate over the years," he said. “The law is quite clear, in that American Samoans and US nationals (citizens) have priority in the hiring process."
Utu continued, “The next level HR gate is the one for career service eligibility. Some, ineligible for that status, may have gotten past for one reason or another.” He said that so far, they have found 28 employees with P5 status - a status that is the most tenuous for a worker with the exception of "illegal immigrant."
P5s are usually "domestic" or "farm" workers.
Management, or the ASPA Board, "has no legal discretion in conferring 'career service' status - for instance, on P5s,” Utu added.
He said, “interestingly enough, even though the law is quite clear as to the priority of hiring (first and foremost, hire American Samoans or US nationals), the Administrative Code (which consist of "rules" and not "statutes") has blurred the distinction between that category and the other immigration statuses. In the exercise currently being conducted at ASPA, we base our decisions on the law and not the rules.”
Utu explained that with regards to the 28 employees who hold P5 statuses, they are reviewing each P5 case by case and are allowing an amnesty period for the employee to change his or her status.
When asked what ASPA done to ensure this will not repeat, Utu responded that they vet the applications by setting aside all American Samoans/US Nationals in one pile, rather than considering all applications in a mix.
“Even for the specialized positions, we vet this way,” he concluded.
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