Gov talks about progress on amnesty program
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has informed an official of the Taiwanese government that he is in the “process of establishing an Amnesty Program” that would allow all foreign nationals, including citizens of Taiwan, living in the territory without proper documents to resolve their immigration status.
While in Hawai’i recently, the governor met with V.C. Chu, the director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) Honolulu, which is one of the representative offices of the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the US, and as director-general, Chu is responsible for enhancing Taiwan’s bilateral economic, cultural, education and tourism ties with Hawai’i and American Samoa.
A media statement from the governor’s office following the meeting states that among the issues discussed were a mission to American Samoa, incentives for companies to locate facilities in American Samoa, telemedicine diagnostic assistance, visa waiver, appointment of an honorary resident consul to facilitate prompt consideration of emergency issues, and possible visitation by respective parties.
Last week, Lolo wrote to Chu thanking the Taiwanese officials for taking time to meet with him. Lolo says he is pleased that “we were able to discuss issues of mutual benefit to your government and our people.”
He is also thankful for the “relationship fashioned between our two governments” by former Gov. Togiola Tulafono. Lolo promised to pursue the initiatives discussed during the meeting.
“I will take into consideration your request to grant a visa wavier to citizens of Taipei [Taiwan]” Lolo wrote.
(Samoa News should point out that the U.S. government's visa waiver program now includes citizens of Taiwan entering the U.S. — which does not include American Samoa since the territory has its own immigration laws. The program permits visa-free-travel to the U.S. for eligible travelers visiting for 90-days or less, for business or tourism. Early this morning, in related news, Hawaiian Airlines launched direct flights between Honolulu and Taipei, Taiwan.)
Lolo informed Chu that “I am in the process of establishing an Amnesty Program to provide the opportunity to citizens of your country living in American Samoa without proper immigration documents to get their immigration status resolved.”
“Illegal unregistered immigrants identified after the amnesty period will be deported,” he pointed out.
Lolo’s letter provides the latest update on what the administration is doing with the Amnesty Program, which was first revealed by the governor during his address to the Fono in January this year.
At that time, Lolo told lawmakers that he was looking at implementing an amnesty program for undocumented foreigners and had asked the attorney general to develop policies and procedures to govern and monitor the implementation of an “Amnesty Initiative”.
The proposed program will provide a window of six months for all undocumented immigrants living illegally in the territory to get their immigration papers in order or risk being deported after the Amnesty Period expires. It would be for all immigrants, not only the Taiwanese.
In his letter, the governor says Chu’s “commitment to work collaboratively on matters that will jointly benefit our two governments is comforting and reassuring”.
“This certainly forms a solid foundation for open and frank discussions to ensure that our collaboration will generate mutual benefits and unilaterally establish a ‘win-win’ environment for both peoples,” he said. “It is my hope that more meetings will be held in the future so we can advance the achievement of issues mutually beneficial to both countries.”