MAJOR DECREASE IN TRAVELERS TO PAGO PAGO

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (June 3, 2001 – Radio Australia)---The government’s suspension of three-day visitor permits is being blamed for a marked decrease in the number of travelers arriving in Pago Pago from neighboring Samoa.

A spokesman for Polynesia Shipping said last week's voyage of the interisland vessel, Lady Naomi, brought in just 80 passengers.

The normal passenger load is more than 200.

Acting Attorney General Fiti Sunia suspended the issuance of three-day permits the week before last, saying too many visitors from Samoa ignored the permit’s restriction and illegally overstayed in the U.S. territory.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

 

SAMOAN OVERSTAYERS CAUSING CRACKDOWN IN AMERICAN SAMOA

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (June 1, 2001 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)---The three-day permit issued by the Samoan government is accused of being responsible for the large percentage of overstayers in American Samoa.

As a result, American Samoa Acting Attorney General Fiti Sunia informed Samoa’s Chief Immigration Officer, Mataafa Tomasi Esera, that the three-day permit for visitors from Samoa has been suspended.

And to further combat the overstayer problem, the American Samoan government has stepped up the enforcement of immigration laws and is asking the public to help identify permit and visa violators.

Sunia said the change in policy was necessary to provide his government with the time necessary to remedy some of the inherent difficulties associated with the three-day permits.

Many Samoans legally work in American Samoa, primarily in the fish canneries. People from the two Samoas also have many traditional and family ties. But there has been growing concern in American Samoa about overstayers from the neighboring and larger independent nation.

The Attorney General's Office said it had the names and pictures of many overstayers, collected when the visitors arrived. The documents remain in the government’s possession, "because the aliens never left."

An Immigration official told the Samoa Observer that "I know of more than 150 travel documents in the Attorney General’s possession, but there could be more."

A statement from the office said: "The Office of the Attorney General is confident that immigration officers, aided by the names and pictures on the travel documents, will find these people and send them home."

It also warned that the consequences to overstayers would be "severe," which include banning aliens from returning to the territory, monetary fines and possible prosecution.

"Volunteering to leave American Samoa is far more convenient and advisable. On the other hand, if located and found by immigration officers, the aliens will have little choice in the arrangements the Immigration Office may make to ensure their departure," the Attorney General's office said.

It is also asking the public to help identify overstayers and report their names to the Immigration Office, which has advised the public that "harboring an overstayer is illegal and is grounds for criminal prosecution."

For additional reports from the Samoa Observer, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa Observer.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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