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Immigration Board steps in, imposes hefty fine on local construction company

American Samoa District Court building
Workers came in on 30-day permits and were employed without valid ID cards

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Fines and penalties totaling over $13,500 will be imposed on the sponsor of 9 construction workers from Samoa who entered the territory on 30-day permits and were employed without valid immigration ID cards.

Samoa News understands that the Immigration Board issued its decision last week pertaining to the group, of which one was convicted of DUI earlier this month and sentenced to 6 months probation on the condition that he depart the territory by Sunday, Jan. 20, and not return anytime during his court ordered probation term.

On Friday, Jan. 18, in District Court, Mui Sua a.k.a. Mui Lilomaiava appeared before Judge Fiti Sunia for sentencing.

It was revealed at the time that Sua's immigration permit expires Monday, Jan. 21 but there was already a ticket for him to return to Samoa on Sunday, Jan 20. No specifics were provided in court when Sunia asked an Immigration officer who was  present, how Sua entered the territory.

Samoa News was told by an Immigration officer earlier this week that Sua has departed; however, there was no confirmation on the status of the other eight workers.

Samoa News sought answers from Immigration Board chairperson Fanene Edda Wyberski last week. According to Fanene, any person who enters the territory on a 30-day permit is not eligible to obtain a valid Immigration ID and therefore, they cannot legally work here.

She confirmed that Sua was part of a group of workers brought in by a local construction company, and under the law, they were not supposed to work because they didn't have any valid Immigration IDs.

Part of Sua's sentence included an order for his sponsor to pay $170 in fines. However, Samoa News understands that penalties and fines imposed by the Immigration Board — according to what is outlined under the law — will amount to more than $13,500

Furthermore, the names of all 9 individuals will be on a list of those restricted from entering the territory in the future. According to Immigration, the group entered the territory on 30-day permits in December 2018.