U.S. PASSPORTS SOUGHT FOR VIETNAMESE BABIES BORN IN AMERICAN SAMOA

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (February 23, 2001 - PIDP/CPIS)---Efforts are under way to obtain U.S. passports for four infants born to three female Vietnamese workers at the Daewoosa Samoa garment factory.

One of the workers arrived in American Samoa pregnant, while the other two conceived while living here.

Because the infants were born in American Samoa, they are entitled to hold an American passport, as a U.S. national.

The first babies are 16-month old twins, while the other two babies are less than six months old.

The babies live at the Nazareth House at Fatu-O-Aiga (Catholic compound), where their mothers go to visit them.

When one of the caretakers wanted to bring the babies into the Daewoosa Samoa compound late last year, it caused a disagreement with Daewoosa officials, who insisted that children are not allowed in the compound.

Sources said U.S. passport applications were picked up for the infants in preparation for their return back to Vietnam with their mothers.

The applications for the passports have not yet reached the Attorney General's Office, which processes passport applications.

One of the mothers reportedly signed an agreement to give up her child to a local couple, but has since changed her mind and now wants to take her child with her when she returns to Hanoi.

Daewoosa officials said the woman who gave birth to the twins arrived in the territory while she was already pregnant, but the company was not aware of it until later.

Daewoosa tried to return the pregnant women to Vietnam, but a court order prevented them from doing so.

The pregnant women giving birth here were discussed in the Legislature last year. The lawmakers feared that the mothers would not return to their home country once their babies had U.S. passports, but at this point those fears do not seem to be well founded.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, the existence of an infant U.S. national need not interfere with deportation proceedings for the child’s mother.

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