Chief of Immigration ready to give Court ‘missing’ file for over stayer
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Chief Immigration Officer Peseta Dennis Fuimaono and his staff are ready to present to the Trial Division of the American Samoa High Court the file that contains all the accurate information about an over-stayer who is now serving time at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) in Tafuna, after he was convicted by the court for escape from confinement, burglary and stealing.
Samoa News obtained a copy of Joeita Fa’aaliga’s Immigration file last week, which contains the date he entered American Samoa, his name on his Entry Permit (which is not ‘Joeita Fa’aaliga’) and the airline tickets, the date he entered the territory, and also his sponsor’s name.
According to his Immigration file, his name on his Document of Identity is “Joita Fa’aaliga”, the same name that also appeared on his 30-day permit and on his Itinerary. He entered American Samoa on August 21, 2012, and his sponsor is Pine A. Lauoletolo.
In an interview with the Chief Immigration Officer (CIO) re the file, he explained to Samoa News that the reason why his staff did not produce Fa’aaliga’s file on time when requested by the court, was because the name the court provided to his staff did not match the name that was in their computer system.
He said that when his staff received the request from the court, the name the court provided was “Joeita Fa’aaliga”, but the name in their computer system is “Joita Fa’aaliga”. He further stated that Fa’aaliga’s sponsor is Pine A. Lauoletolo.
When asked about “conflicting reports and information” about Fa’aaliga the court claimed that the Immigration Office has provided, the CIO stated that there were no conflicting reports or information his office ever provided to the court, in fact — they only provided facts and an accurate report.
The CIO wanted to clear the air, saying that it was not during his time as a Chief Immigration Officer that Fa’aaliga entered American Samoa.
He pointed out that their records show that Fa’aaliga arrived in the territory in 2012, prior to the time that he was appointed by Gov. Lolo M. Moliga to lead the Immigration Office. He further stated that he was not the one who signed Fa’aaliga’s entry permit, and doesn’t want the court to blame this Administration (Lolo and Lemanu’s Administration) for something that they didn’t do.
When asked about the “on the fly policies” by his office that the court is also concerned about, the CIO stated that there are no such “on the fly policies” inside his office, but his staff is trying their best to make sure all people entering the territory on visitors’ permits return to their home country when their permits expire.
One of the reasons why the court has mentioned the issue about “on the fly policies” during one of Fa’aaliga’s hearing last month, was because travelers from other foreign countries who entered the territory are instructed to pay money to the Immigration Office when they arrive at the Tafuna Airport.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse during Fa’aaliga’s Deposition Hearing on Feb. 02, 2017, tells a story of what he observed to happen when he arrived at the airport with some Australian passport holders one day. Kruse stated that at the Immigration window, the Australian passport holders were told that they had to post some money.
Kruse further stated that what caught his attention was that when the Australian passport holders asked for a receipt, they were told to come back the following day to pick it up.
When asked if this is true, Peseta said that he his staff told him that it was not Kruse that was traveling with the Australian passport holders on that day — it was his wife.
The court has not yet to scheduled a date to deal with the collateral aspects involving implementation of executive policies, which caused the Peseta to appear in court twice this year when Fa’aaliga’s case was called.
Fa’aaliga’s Deposition Hearing on Feb. 02, 2018 was re-scheduled for Feb. 15,after the court was unsatisfied with the answers the government attorney Robert Morris and Peseta provided.
Kruse stated during the Feb. 02 hearing that the court was receiving conflicting information about who is Fa’aaliga’s real sponsor. According to the two reports the court received from the Immigration Office, Fa’aaliga had two different sponsors list on the reports — Pine A. Lauoletolo on one and Misipele Liaina on the other.
Morris asked Peseta while he was on the witness stand, if the two sponsors named in the two separate reports are two different sponsors, and Peseta responded, “No, it’s the same person.”
According to Kruse, the two separate reports the court received from the Immigration Office — back in 2013 and 2014 — each contained a different sponsor for Fa’aaliga and both reports were signed by Peseta. The two documents were marked as court exhibit 1 & 2.
When Kruse asked Peseta about the two separate reports he signed, he stated to the court that he only signed the first report.
Fa’aaliga is still in custody serving his straight sentence of 12 years. As a condition of his sentence by the court, upon release from detention, the defendant shall depart the territory immediately and remain outside of its borders for the period of his probation.