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New mandate: Sponsors responsible for vaccinations of immigrants; Clamps down on immigrants ‘taking over’ jobs

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Under a new directive, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga is requiring sponsors to have immigrants they sponsor, vaccinated as a condition to reside in the territory. And if the immigrant refuses, that individual will be deported.

The governor also outlined, in the same directive, specific “criteria” required for immigrants to work in the territory.

“To meet our goal of vaccinating all American Samoa residents, particularly the documented and non-documented [foreigners], this policy is herein articulated making the sponsor of any immigrant responsible for the vaccination of the individual under sponsorship,” said Lolo in a Dec. 10th letter to acting Attorney General Alexandra Zirschky, Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua, and Chief Immigration Officer Peseta Dennis Fuimaono.

According to Lolo, renewal identification cards for continued residence in American Samoa will require presentation of proof from the Health Department that a measles vaccination has been administered. “If the immigrant refuses to be vaccinated, the individual will be deported and the sponsor will absorb any resultant cost and expenses,” the governor ordered.

He also directed that before any entry permit is issued for travel to American Samoa, verification of vaccination must accompany the request, along with other normal requirements connected with entry documentation pursuant to existing immigration laws, rules and regulations.

Furthermore, until otherwise rescinded, requests for entry permits from Samoa will be under review for 15-days and all entry requests from all other countries will be allotted 30-days for review except for US states and territories.

(Samoa News notes that provision of the governor’s Dec. 8th emergency declaration due to the measles outbreak, states that all entry permits and entry permit waivers for those traveling through Samoa and Tonga “are suspended until further notice.”)

The governor’s directive also addresses long standing concerns from lawmakers, of many foreigners brought into the territory to work, taking over jobs that can be filled by local residents — of note: jobs in businesses that are operated by Asians, especially retail stores throughout Tutuila.

In the letter, Lolo ordered that immigrants entering the territory for employment must be “thoroughly scrutinized” by following specific “criteria to abate the current trend of immigrants being brought into the territory to perform jobs that could be handled by local residents.”

According to the governor, priority will be given to critically needed professions such as doctors, nurses, medical technicians, engineers, accountants, teachers, and investors. “Professionals with young children will be discouraged unless full verification is provided that all measles and required health vaccinations have been completed,” the governor said.

“Professionals admitted into the territory for critical employment areas will be within the age range of 25 to 40 years old.

“The consideration of professionals below or beyond the age range will depend on the nature of the profession and the demand for it,” he concluded.

A provision of local immigration law allows a corporation to sponsor and bring in foreigners to work in certain areas, but lawmakers have complained that this has become a loophole, allowing more foreigners to come here, taking over jobs such as cashiers and store clerks that can be filled by locals.