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Amnesty Program on the table for Inter-Samoa talks

A proposed amnesty program, immigration issues and telecommunications are among the topics American Samoa plans to raise at the Inter Samoa Talks or Samoa Summit between the American Samoa Governor and leaders of the Samoa Government, which will be held in Samoa later this year.


Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga in his letter to Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi noted that while there have been overtures earlier calling for the resumption of summit meetings between the two Samoas, “I had been reluctant because I felt unprepared to intelligently and competently discuss issues of mutual concerns for both Samoas."


“Having spent seven months in office, I am now confident that I can prudently discuss matters impacting our respective countries, and the quality of lives of both our people,” said Governor Lolo. The governor pointed out to Samoa’s PM that he has appointed Directors to form the organizing nucleus charged with the mandate of identifying discussion issues and topics to be addressed in the next Summit.


Last week Lolo appointed Acting Election Commissioner Tuaolo Manaia Fruean, Human Resources Director Sonny Thompson and DOC Director, Keniseli Lafaele and in addition he appointed Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop and ASTCA’s CEO Moefa’auo Bill Emmesley to the organizing team.


“It is my hope that they will collaborate with your team to develop the appropriate draft agenda for our collective review prior to finalization preceding the actual summit. Other summit details with regard to the dates, time and venue are also made part of the assigned mandate," he wrote.


The Governor also pointed he has authorized the travel of cabinet members in the organizing team to go to Samoa if necessary, to orchestrate the development of the Summit Agenda and other ancillary issues to be discussed with the team in Samoa.


Lolo wrote Tuilaepa that he’s looking forward to the upcoming Summit given that there are many critical issues requiring frank and open dialogue, while very mindful of our political status and foreign policies of the United States placed under the legal purview of the US Department of State.


In his letter, Lolo noted to all department heads that to ensure comprehensive coverage, he added Jessop and Moefa’auo to the organizing team. “Some of the issues to be discussed include our proposed Amnesty Program and other immigration issues.”


According to the Governor, the organizing team is to explore with their Samoa counterparts a suitable date for the Summit along with the venue and planning to ensure achievement of Summit Goals. It is “given 60 days to accomplish its mission culminating with the presentation of a final report for review and approval. However, it is recommended that periodic reports be submitted to gauge the progress of the work of the organizing team,” said Governor Lolo.


The Amnesty program which the governor mentioned was first revealed in his address to the Fono in January this year. This program is for undocumented foreigners, and he has tasked Deputy AG Jessop to develop policies and procedures, which will govern and monitor the implementation of an “Amnesty Initiative”.


The proposed program will provide a window of six months for all undocumented immigrants living illegally in the territory to get their immigration papers in order or risk being deported after the Amnesty Period expires. The Governor said earlier that illegal unregistered immigrants identified after the amnesty period will be deported.


The amnesty initiative, if enacted, would apply to ‘illegal immigrants’ from all countries, and not just Samoa foreigners, according to the governor’s office.