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Community News Briefs

Congresswoman Aumua Amata with Assistant Secretary Doug Domenech prior to the confirmation hearing in July.  [courtesy photo]
compiled by Samoa News staff


Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale has been tasked by the governor to work with all stakeholders to develop policies and protocols with regards to “denied entry” to foreign diplomats and other entrants for political asylum or humanitarian reasons.

Such policy should be developed in concert with the local Department of Homeland Security, Department of Treasury, Department of Port Administration, the Governor’s Office, and the Department of Public Safety, according to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s letter last week to Talauega.

“It is apparent that we don’t have ‘denied entry policy’ in place to safeguard us from embarrassing incidents involving diplomats and other humanitarian issues which might necessitate acceptance of visitors into the territory without the appropriate immigration documents,” the governor wrote.

Accordingly, “it is necessary that we develop and articulate ‘Denied Entry Protocols’ covering entry of diplomats and individuals seeking political asylum or other humanitarian reasons,” he said.

Lolo wants Talauega to spearhead the development of a “Denied Entry Protocol” documenting clear procedures, which must be followed by frontline officers of the respective government agencies “to ensure that these incidents are handled with dignity and respect regarding those individuals who find themselves on our shores.

“Your prompt response to the completion of this policy for my review and approval is appreciated,” the governor wrote.

Copies of the letter were sent to directors of the appropriate ASG agencies as well as Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga.

Samoa News notes that American Samoa is the only US jurisdiction which controls its own borders - both immigration and customs - while all states and the rest of the US territories follow federal laws enforced by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a law enforcement bureau within the US Department of Homeland Security.

The governor’s move to set up local policy and protocol comes at a time when there is political unrest in many parts of the Asia region, with displaced people seeking asylum in neighboring countries, including some countries in the Pacific.

In his Samoan address at a joint Fono session earlier this year in July, Lolo said he was looking at making recommendations to the Immigration Board on additional steps to be taken in the vetting process for foreigners entering the territory.

He was concerned with American Samoa being used as a conduit for extremists to enter the United States. (See Samoa News July 13th edition for details).


Washington, DC –Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 - Congresswoman Aumua Amata welcomed U.S. Senate confirmation of Doug Domenech as the Assistant Secretary of Insular Areas. In July, she had the opportunity to introduce the nominee to the Senate Committee that first considered his nomination, and she is pleased to congratulate Assistant Secretary Domenech today.

“I want to congratulate Assistant Secretary Domenech, who is a good friend, and highly qualified for the position,” Aumua Amata said. “This leadership role is important to American Samoa and all the people of the Insular areas. The Assistant Secretary’s knowledge and experience of the mission of the office is unparalleled, and I know that he will be an energetic public servant on behalf of the people in these areas.”

Assistant Secretary Domenech was already serving as the Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior, and is also Secretary Zinke’s appointee to the Advisory Council of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, where he has lived and from where his family originally hails. Previously, he served as the Secretary of Natural Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and in that role, he had responsibility for overseeing six state environmental, recreation, and historic resource agencies.

“I again want to thank the Assistant Secretary for his willingness to serve our great country,” continued the Congresswoman. “My friend Doug was always a great choice for this role, and I know he’s ready and up to the challenge ahead.”

(Source: Congresswoman Aumua Amata's Office)


On Tuesday, Sept. 5th,  the local Auxiliary flotilla met with Captain Michael Long, Commander Sector Honolulu; Master Chief Phillip Kibby, Sector Honolulu Command Master Chief; and Lieutenant Tanner Stiehl, supervisor of the marine Safety Detachment American Samoa. 

Sector Honolulu includes Pago Harbor. 

Lieutenant Stiehl is new to American Samoa and the two officers from Honolulu were here on familiarization rounds of District 14. 

The meeting was held at the Gataivai terminal conference room. 

Captain Long praised the voluntary spirit of the Auxiliarists and solicited feedback as to how Sector Command can help with the local Auxiliary mission.  Several ideas were discussed with a focus on SAR or search and rescue operations.  

American Samoa is supported by New Zealand but aircraft and other rescue assets are several hours away. Therefore, it is important to develop local resources. 

The local flotilla includes people who are familiar with the local geography and surrounding waters and can play a key role in SAR operations.

In addition, the auxiliary assists the local US Coast Guard with vessel safety inspections and pollution detection.  The auxiliary holds monthly meetings every third Wednesday and conducts regular coast watch/cleanup events. During the last half of the year, the auxiliary will participate with information and outreach booths

at: Coast Weeks (Sept. 18-26) and the Fisheries Council Fisher’s Forum in October.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed volunteer component of the U.S. Coast Guard and supports the Coast Guard in nearly all its service missions. The Auxiliary was created by Congress in 1939.

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