Immigration says they did not forcibly deport pregnant Filipino
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The issue about the forced deportation of a 7-month pregnant Filipino immigrant and her 5-year-old son last month is not true, according to Chief Immigration Officer (CIO), Peseta Dennis Fuimaono during an interview with Samoa News at his office yesterday morning.
“The woman and her son were both overstayers,” Peseta said. “She came here on a 30-day permit which expired a long time ago and our staff tried to locate her, but she ran from us for almost 3 months before we finally found her.”
“So the information that was provided to the Philippine Consul General which caused her to write a letter to our Attorney General is inaccurate. The woman was never force-deported, she was also not 7-months pregnant at the time she left the territory, and she does not have a husband on island as stated in the letter,” the CIO told Samoa News.
Merlin Gerin Lloren, a Filipino national and her son were deported on March 1, 2018 on the grounds that she overstayed. This is according to a March 28 letter from the Consulate General of the Republic of the Philippines, Honolulu, to ASG Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale.
According to the CIO, the woman and her 5-year-old son entered American Samoa last year on a 30-day permit sponsored by H&H Company. When they arrived in American Samoa they stayed with the sponsor for a few weeks before running away from the sponsor and staying with Filipino friends and families.
The CIO said that according to the owner of H&H, the company sponsored the woman to do accounting work but when she was given work to do, she did not know anything about accounting, and that’s why the company didn’t want to hire her.
It was during the time the woman was living with other Filipino friends and families that she became pregnant by another Filipino man, who is married and owns a business in Nu’uuli, according to Peseta, who added the Lloren is not married, as noted in the Consulate General’s letter to the AG.
The CIO told Samoa News that the case reached his office when the owner of H&H sought his help in finding the woman and sending her back to Manila because she was an overstayer. And also, she was spreading untrue rumors that he’s the father of her unborn child.
In trying to enforce the law, Peseta explained that he ordered his staff to find the woman and bring her to the Immigration Office. It took his staff almost 3 months to locate Lloren and she was finally brought in for a meeting, during which her sponsor was also present.
“In that meeting, the woman agreed to leave American Samoa voluntarily with her son to Apia and continue to Manila. She was never force deported. We explained to her in front of her sponsor that if she left voluntarily, there would be another chance for her to come back after she gave birth,” the CIO told Samoa News.
He added that during their meeting with the woman, her sponsor and several members of his staff, the woman told them she was 4 months pregnant. That was the reason why he allowed her to depart because she could still travel on the plane.
“So now the Consul General is requesting for her to come back to give birth in the territory, I don’t think that is going to happen. If we allow her to come back she can’t come because the airline will not allow her on the plane because she’s pregnant. So now, they lied to the Consul General to make the subject seem like our office created the whole problem, but it’s not. We did our job, but she was the problem”, the CIO said.
There were people assigned by the Immigration office to pick up the woman and her son at Fagalii Airport, and assist them to Faleolo International Airport to catch their flight. But according to the CIO, when the assigned people went to pick up her up, Lloren and her son were being picked up by some of her Filipino friends and family who took them.
The CIO confirmed that the woman and her son are still in Apia — they do not want to go back to Manila.