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Filipino overstayer is still on island despite an order of voluntary departure

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Filipino woman who was ordered by the Immigration Board to leave American Samoa by last week Friday is still on island.

An immigration officer who wants to remain anonymous confirmed to Samoa News that Joselyn M. Intila is still in the territory, despite an order from the Immigration Board that she had to depart the territory within 10 days of her hearing, which was Wednesday, July 23, 2018.

Samoa News understands that negotiations are ongoing right now between a lawyer from the Attorney General’s Office who was assigned to handle the case, and attorneys from the RDA Law Firm who are representing Intila.

Samoa News further understands that in an effort to finalize some issues regarding the matter, there was a meeting last week involving attorneys from both sides, along with the immigration officer who is handling the case.

However, negotiations for an agreement have failed, and according to the source, and there is a probability that the matter will end up with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Despite the fact that the Board's decision was issued on July 23, a source told Samoa News that Intila was never served with a copy of the decision. The Board’s decision was addressed to Intila, with copies to Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, Lt. Lemanu P. Mauga, and Chief Immigration Officce (CIO) Peseta Dennis Fuimaono.

Not only had the Board ordered Intila to depart American Samoa and not return for one year, she also to pay a $2,000 fine.

Intila’s former sponsor and employer, Rep. Vui Florence Saulo had written to the Immigration Board Chairwoman and board members, asking them to deny Intila’s re-entry to American Samoa for the next ten years based on numerous reasons she stated in her letter; but the Board denied the request and ordered instead, a one year voluntary departure.

The following is the Board's decision in its entirety:

Dear Ms. Joselyn Macepar Intila,

"The Immigration Board has heard your application to modify the terms of your Voluntary Departure from American Samoa, dated June 20, 2018.

The actions that you have taken and the answers that you have given before the Immigration Board during your appeal hearing on July 23, 2018 confirmed you are in violation of the American Samoa Government Immigration Laws:

1. You refused to re-new your American Samoa Government Alien Registration Card AR #54251SP Status: Special Provision which expired on 31 May, 2018, and are now an ‘overstayer’. ASCA 41.0311; Willful failure to apply for registration or photograph - Penalty fine of $1,000.

2. You have moved away from your legal sponsor/employer, and failed to give notice or change of address. ASCA 41.0308: Notice of address or change of address. ASCA 41.0311: Failure to give notice of address or change of address - Penalty fine of $1,000.

Based on the evidence presented, your request to modify the terms of your Voluntary Department, is hereby granted, you may voluntarily depart within 10 days from the date of this order, subject on the following conditions:

1. You must depart American Samoa no later that Friday, August 3, 2018;

2. You are ineligible to enter American Samoa for a period of one (1) year;

3. You are to pay the penalty fines total of $2,000 before you depart.

The decision was signed by 4 Board members including chairwoman, Fanene Edda Wyberski. It's not clear at this time who is going to pay Intila’s fine.

Efforts to obtain a comment from Fanene yesterday morning were unsuccessful. But one of the Board members did agree to talk.

According to the Board member, who wishes to remain anonymous, there is no reason why Intila has to remain on island, as her immigration ID expired over two months ago.

“Our decision is very simple and straight forward, Intila is an overstayer and she has to leave our jurisdiction right away despite what she’s saying about her former sponsor and employer. We issued our decision based on the fact that Intila violated immigration laws by refusing to renew her immigration ID, and also moving away from her former sponsor. Our duty is to protect and uphold immigration laws and make decisions according to the law,” the Board member said.

In her letter to the Board, Vui said foreign workers who seek employment in the territory come to her with the understanding that they are guests who are subject to our laws and policies.

“As hosts, we have the obligation to treat them right and fairly but we also have a duty to make sure they do not manipulate the opportunities that are provided in ways that are adverse to our interests. That is why I am urging the Board to take a serious look at what is being perpetrated here and to stop it from going any further,” Vui wrote.