FJ&P Kruse files lawsuit against two gov't agencies
A lawsuit has been filed with the Office of the Administrative Law Judge against the Immigration Board, the Attorney General’s office (Immigration office) and the American Samoa Government, to vacate and set aside an immigration board decision to penalize FJ&P Kruse Inc. on allegations they employed illegal immigrants.
The lawsuit was filed earlier this month by FJ&P Kruse Inc. through their attorney, Marcellus Talaimalo Uiagalelei. According to the suit there are three charges filed in this matter, with two counts of failure to afford hearing and failure to afford due process.
According to the lawsuit, the FJ&P Kruse store employs many individuals, some of whom are non-U.S. Nationals. The lawsuit stated that on August 17, 2013 Immigration officers came to one of the Kruse’s places of business and carried out what they termed “an inspection of Petitioner’s employees.”
After the Immigration officers’ inspection, FJ&P Kruse Corporation was informed through one of its representatives that it was in violation of immigration laws due to the lack of immigration clearance for some of its employees and therefore would have to pay a “sala” or penalty.
“Petitioner was further informed through its representatives that all employees in violation must be present at the Immigration Office on Monday, August 19, 2013 in the morning to fix their papers."
"On that Monday, Petitioner was again informed by telephone through its representatives that the employees clearances could not be processed unless Petitioner paid the penalty which was $500 per employee for eight employees, plus $1,000 for the Petitioner as the employer.”
According to the lawsuit, the petitioner’s representative visited the Immigration Office to discuss the matter and was made to wait for the Chief Immigration Officer. “After being made to wait in the wrong area of the Immigration Office, Petitioner's representative inquired as to where the fines are to be paid and she was finally shown the cashier’s window.”
In the document’s filed with the court, it’s noted the petitioner’s representative was informed that because FJ&P Kruse Incorporated employed individuals illegally, petitioner had to pay a fine of $1,000 and given that it employed eight non-American Samoans without clearance, the petitioner had to pay $500 for each employee, which totaled $4,000.
According to the lawsuit, the petitioner paid fines and penalties in full ($5,000) without being advised and without knowing that it had a right to a hearing before the Immigration board on this matter.
COUNT ONE: FAILURE TO AFFORD HEARING
The lawsuit quoted ASCA 41.0410 (a) which states that before any person or entity is found liable for illegal employment of aliens, there must be a hearing before the immigration board and that it’s the board that finds the person guilty of the violation.
The petitioner was never afforded a hearing by the board or the immigration office and it was found guilty of illegally employing aliens without the benefit of a hearing.
“By law, only the board has that authority to make such a determination" according to the suit.
COUNT TWO: FAILURE TO AFFORD HEARING
The lawsuit quoted ASCA 41.0410 (b), which requires that before any alien is found liable for working illegally there must be a hearing before the board and it’s the board that has to find that person guilty of the violation.
The Petitioner was never afforded a hearing by the board of the immigration office and section ASCA 41.0410 (b) does not apply to petitioner as an employer, yet petitioner was found guilty of violating ASCA 41.0410 (b).
COUNT THREE: FAILURE TO AFFORD DUE PROCESS
ASCA 41.0410 (C) requires a hearing before the Immigration board before anyone can be found guilty of violating subsections (b) and (a).The lawsuit further states that article 1 section 2 of the revised constitution of American Samoa prohibits the deprivation of property without due process of law and petitioner was deprived property in the amount of $5,000 without due process of law, when it was found guilty, fined and penalized by the Immigration Board for employing aliens illegally without the benefit of a hearing before the board.
FJ&P Kruse Incorporated is seeking for the ALJ to reverse the immigration board’s decision finding petitioner guilty, set aside the fines imposed in the amount of $5,000 and reverse the board’s decision in this matter on the basis that petitioner was not afforded due process of law.
FJ&P Kruse Incorporated also seeks for ALJ to award them reasonable attorney fees and costs and make other awards it may deem equitable and just.