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Court orders man with expiring ID not to leave until his court case is resolved

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man whose entry permit expires today is not allowed to leave the territory unless the court orders him to, or until his case in District Court is resolved.

This was an order handed down by Judge Elvis P. Patea yesterday morning when Iosua Taavao a.k.a. Iosua Ieremia made his appearance for a string of traffic violations.

According to Immigration, Taavao entered the territory on a permit that expires today, Feb. 12, but his sponsor has already petitioned for an extension.

The explanation didn't sit well with Judge Patea, who explained to Taavao that similar to individuals trying to get green cards in the US, a person cannot enter a country as a visitor and then wait for their papers to expire before they petition to renew their status. "You have to go back to your home country to await a decision," Judge Patea said.

Taavao entered a plea of 'not guilty' to the multiple citations against him in this new case. However, Judge Patea noted that Taavao owes the court $110 in outstanding fines from 2016. He said the unpaid fine is a result of Taavao being cited for driving without a license.

Judge Patea said two of the charges against Taavao in this new case are for the same thing, him operating a vehicle without a license. He then set bail for Taavao at $500 and spelled out the conditions of release.

Taavao is to remain law abiding, make all his court appearances, keep in close contact with his lawyer, remain sober, and be subject to random testing.

"You are not allowed to drive," Judge Patea said to the defendant.

Although a continuance as far as his immigration status will be valid after today, Judge Patea told Taavao that he is not to depart American Samoa until his matter is resolved, or unless otherwise ordered by the court.

Taavao was remanded back to custody at TCF yesterday morning.