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Filipino woman forced-deported says she is not the one lying

Merlin Gerin Lloren and her son in a 2017 photo.  [Courtesy photo]
Claims an Immigration officer was paid $2,200 for their bonds

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Filipino immigrant who was allegedly forced-deported with her 5-year-old son last month has responded to the many allegations made against her by the Chief Immigration Officer (CIO), Peseta Dennis Fuimaono and his staff. One of her claims is that she was 7-months pregnant when forced to leave and has provided documentation to Samoa News to support her assertion.

In her response, Merlin Gerin Lloren told Samoa News that she never lied to the Chief Immigration Officer or his staff about anything. It was they who lied to her.

Lloren provided to Samoa News via-email her statement about what she claims actually happened on Mar. 1, as well as the documentation to support that she was 7-months pregnant when both she and her son were forced to leave American Samoa.

The documents she provided appear to be reports from three different clinics she visited for her pregnancy. One with the Tafuna Clinic on Feb. 28, 2018 and the others of the last two visits in Apia both on Mar. 5 with J’s Ultrasound Clinic and Plaza Health Care Medical Clinic.

Copy of one of the medical reports — this one from the Plaza Healthcare Medical Clinic in Apia confirming that Merlin Gerin Lloren was 7 months pregnant when she was forced to leave American Samoa last month by the Immigration Office. She has provided three documents confirming her pregnancy of 7 months to Samoa News. [Courtesy photo]

All three documents confirm that Merlin is pregnant with a due date set for May 12, 2018, which indicates she was 7 months pregnant when she was forced to leave the territory with her son. (Samoa News has in its possession all three copies of the documents.)

She told Samoa News she never ran away from Immigration officers nor the H & H Samsung Company owner as stated by the CIO in his interview with the Samoa News, which was published last week Friday.

Lloren said everyone knew the apartment where she stayed with her son in Nu’uuli.

She recalled her conversation with the female immigration officer, Siutu Savusa at Carl’s Jr. on March 1, where the officer asked her if she had her passport with her. Lloren said the officer told her she just wanted to check on something in her passport. Without any hesitation, she gave the officer the passport, trusting that nothing was going to happen.

“When she got my passport that’s when she told me that I’m an over-stayer and I needed to go back home immediately,” Lloren recalled.

“I told her that I can’t travel because I’m 7 months pregnant but her response was — it’s the law and no one is above the law.”

According to Lloren, “This was not a voluntary departure because I was never given a chance to explain the reason why I overstayed. In fact, it was a planned move by the Immigration Office to set me up and it was that same day they put me and my son on the plane to Apia.”

Lloren said her story started almost three years ago before their arrival in American Samoa.

She told Samoa News this was in 2015 when her cousin who was residing in Nu’uuli met up with an Immigration officer by the name of Siliva Patu and asked him for a chance to sponsor her, her son and her father to come to American Samoa.

Her cousin introduced Patu to her mother, who was already on island at that time and legally resides here.

According to Lloren, both her mother and cousin were advised by this immigration officer that they must first pay the bonds in full, for her, her son and her father so that he (Patu) could process their immigration paperwork before they arrived. And then with everything ready, they would be able to get their immigration IDs as soon as they entered the territory, before their permits expired.

According to Lloren, her mother and cousin went to the Immigration office in Utulei and gave Patu the sum of $2,200 for their bonds. The first payment was for her father’s bond in the amount of $1,100, followed by her and her son’s bond payment in the amount of $1,100 a few weeks later.

According to her, Patu received the money in Dec. 2015 and they arrived with her son in June 2016 hoping that their immigration IDs would be ready. Unfortunately that was not the case, and when their permits expired and they still hadn’t received their immigration IDs.

“Patu never gave my mother and cousin receipts for the money he received for the bond. Maybe they trusted him because he’s also my cousin’s sponsor and I think that’s why our family fully trusted him,” Lloren said.

“My parents talked to him on Nov. 24, 2016 near their church in between Fly Inc. and Family Mart about our immigration IDs. He promised to give the IDs on Wednesday the following week, but he didn’t. I had to cancel my prior employment because of his un-kept promises about getting my immigration ID but nothing was done. Since then, we never heard from him anymore.”

Lloren told Samoa News that it was not their intention to be in American Samoa illegally, and they wouldn’t have been if not for Patu. He made promise after promise that they would get their immigration IDs, but nothing happened up until the day they were forced to leave American Samoa.

In an effort to find another option to becoming a legal immigrant in the territory, Lloren then approached the H & H Samsung Inc. in June 2017 hoping that the company would help her out. She applied for a job based on her experience and credentials she had, and she was hired immediately after the interview.

Lloren explained she was given a 3-year contract by the owner of the H & H Samsung Inc. Based on her experience, she knew she must provide Immigration with a copy of the job contract with her job description, her salary and the owner’s signature on the contract.

Once the company hired her, she was told that they had to go back to Apia and come back under the company’s sponsorship on the same day. This was back in June 2017.

Things went smoothly during the first week with her new employment, but in the second week, the owner of H&H told her that federal agents were roaming around on island looking for workers who did not have immigration IDs and if they found her, both she and the company would receive fines.

“They didn’t gave me any accounting work to do, they instructed me to go out with the technicians and observe them while they were installing air-conditioners,” Lloren recalled.

“I have my report submitted to the owner every afternoon, but it was just a week. In the following week they let me clean the dishes, mop the floor and clean the office. The accounting work was given to (a woman named) Hannah and another Filipino girl but not me.”

She says her copy of the employment contract turned out to be, “only a blank piece of paper, nothing else was on it.”

“The owner promised that he would help out with my immigration ID, assist with my son’s education and even [provided] an accommodation for us. All these promises never happened,” Lloren said.

Lloren denies allegations that she ran away from the owner and spread rumors about him — he is not the father of her baby she told Samoa News. She said that she has a son to feed and they needed to survive. That’s why she took a part time job at a bakery so that they would be able to survive.

“I’m not trying to do anything so that I can come back to American Samoa, I just wanted to let the truth out so that people will understand the reason why we were over-stayers,” she said.

Lloren and her son are staying with a Samoan family in Apia. She denies claims by the CIO that they were picked up by a Filipino family when they arrived at the Fagalii Airport last month.

She told Samoa News she received US $200 from the owner of H&H Samsung Inc. when she was force-deported. The H&H owner attended CIO Peseta’s meeting with Lloren, after the CIO had apparently contacted the owner and told him he needed to provide ‘pocket money’ as he was the ‘sponsor’. She said she used this money to pay the two nights they stayed at a hotel, after Fiji Airways refused to board them — due to her advanced pregnancy.

A family in American Samoa then contacted their family in Apia, who picked them up from the hotel and they’re staying with them now.