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CONGRESSMAN ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA American Samoa U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.

NEWS RELEASE July 27, 2000


Congressman Eni Faleomavaega recently met with the U.S. Customs officials to discuss the matter of Mid Pasefika and the applicability of U.S. Customs laws in American Samoa.

Although Federal law prohibits U.S. Customs from releasing the details of an on-going investigation, Faleomavaega learned that a thorough investigation is being conducted.

"The U.S. Customs has assured me that this matter is being thoroughly reviewed and investigated. The U.S. Customs has also informed me that the details of the seizure and shipment relating to the Mid Pasefika case go beyond the scope of what has been relayed in newspaper accounts," Congressman Faleomavaega said.

"I expressed serious concerns about this incident," Congressman Faleomavaega continued. "During the course of our briefing, I made it clear that I do not believe Mid Pasefika ‘mislabeled’ over $300,000 dollars worth of clothing. I believe Mid Pasefika acted deliberately and intentionally. I believe Mid Pasefika made a clear choice to violate Federal law."

As it currently stands, only portions of the U.S. Customs laws apply to American Samoa. If there are violations of criminal law, then the U.S. Customs has the authority to investigate. But in other matters, the U.S. Customs zone does not extend to, or include, American Samoa. This could potentially pose serious problems for American Samoa as an increasing number of garment facilities and other foreign businesses make their way to the Territory.

"I am working closely with the U.S. Customs officials to address these concerns. I am also requesting Federal dollars to assist us with our local training needs. I believe, as we address these issues from both the local and Federal levels, we will be able to protect our borders in a way that preserves the culture, values and economy of American Samoa. But the time to act is now," Congressman Faleomavaega concluded.

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