Another missing immigration file prompts Kruse to subpoena AG

ausage@samoanews.com

Chief Justice Michael Kruse has subpoenaed the Attorney General to appear in court on January 12, 2018 to explain why Joeita Fa’aaliga’s file is missing from the Immigration Office, and how this person entered the territory back in 2012.

Fa’aaliga — who is serving a 12-year straight sentence for stealing and burglary — is scheduled to appear again in court on Jan. 12, 2018 for a Deposition Hearing, after he was found guilty of violating conditions of his probation. If the court revokes his probation, Fa'aaliga is looking at serving 34 years total behind bars.

During a hearing last week, Chief Probation Officer Malcolm Polu refreshed the court's memory on what happened during Fa’aaliga's hearing earlier this year in June, during which he was ordered to serve a 12-year straight sentence.

Polu said that before that hearing, the court ordered the Chief Immigration Officer to appear in court to testify regarding the defendant’s case, because the court only received a movement profile for the defendant when he first entered the territory in August 2012 on a 30-day visitor permit.

“The court wasn’t satisfied, so the subpoena was sent to the Chief Immigration Officer to show up in court; but instead, one of his senior supervisors from Immigration's Investigative Division showed up, and the only document the supervisor provided was the copy of the 30-day visitor permit for the defendant to enter the territory in 2012,” Polu told the court.

Kruse asked Polu if the court was ever provided the file that contains all the information on the permit application — the portion the sponsor fills it out and gives to the Pulenu’u to sign — Polu responded no.

Kruse immediately turned to the side where the government’s attorney, Robert Morris was sitting and told him, “I want that a file in court, alright?” Morris responded, “Yes, Your Honor.”

“I want the AG subpoenaed to come down to tell the court how this person entered the territory on a 30-day visitor permit,” Kruse said.

According to the Chief Probation Officer, the court has conflicting information from the Immigration Office about Fa’aaliga. He said the information that was provided by Immigration officers to him show two different sponsors — which were revealed in court —but the date the permit was issued, and the entry date, are the same.

Kruse told Morris that he wants the application found, and he wants to know who the real sponsor is.

“The reason why the court wants to know who the sponsor is, is because that person should responsible for all the debts for this young man, including the cost of jail, medical, and other stuff,” Kruse said.

The Chief Justice also wants to find out from the Warden, what has been done to address the issue of court probationers who are given “Trustee” status while serving time in TCF.

He said the first thing the Warden needs to do, is ensure that the watch commander knows that probationers are under the jurisdiction of the court, not the executive branch.

Kruse recalled former Warden Manase's testimony in court years ago, saying he had a problem with security. At the time, the warden described security at the prison as “…o le mea ula — a joke.”

The Chief Justice said that it has been many years, but he believes Warden Manase’s description, because nothing has been done at the prison to ensure that everyone serving time is secure.

He told the government attorney that this is not the first time an over stayer has come before the court for violating laws in the territory, and while the court has tried to reach out to the Administration to find out how these over stayers manage to stay in the territory illegally, the response the court receives is: The file is lost or missing.

Kruse said he is shocked by claims from the government that they can’t locate files for inmates who are here illegally, that they are missing from the Immigration Office. He pointed out that Immigration’s responsibilities include making sure that all records of foreigners who are authorized to enter the territory are kept.

He recalled the case of a 28-year old male from Samoa, who traveled to American Samoa on a 7-day permit to look for a job. When the court asked the government for the individual’s Immigration file, the response was: the file is lost.

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