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Proposed Senate legislation prohibits Immigration Board members from acting as a sponsor

Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Senate last week passed in third reading the bill sponsored by Senator Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono, which would prohibit a member of the Immigration Board from acting as a sponsor.

The bill also removes the provision stating, members shall serve on the board until a successor is approved, and the board members shall elect their own chairman annually.

“No member of the Immigration Board of American Samoa may sponsor an alien. Any person who is appointed to the Board while they are the sponsor of an alien must end their sponsorship within 60 days of their appointment.

“Any board member who becomes the sponsor of an alien or is still a sponsor more than 60 days after their appointment to the board shall be removed by the Governor,” the bill stipulates.

The proposed bill provides that the seven at large members shall serve for staggered terms, not to exceed 5 years. The provision that board members shall elect their own chairman annually is removed, but the bill does not specify how the chair will be elected.

On Wednesday,Feb. 7, the Immigration Board chairperson Fanene Edda Wyberski appeared before the Senate Rules Committee in a hearing where she had been subpoenaed with Attorney General Fainu’ulelei Falefatu Alailima-Utu.

Committee chairman Senator Magalei Logovi’i was informed that AG Fainu’ulelei could not make it due to other obligations at the court.

Fanene told committee members that the Immigration Board members fully support the proposed bill.

She revealed that the bill’s stipulation where board members are prohibited from sponsoring aliens is in fact a long-standing board policy which they have upheld ever since she was appointed.

However, she is glad that it will become an official requirement if the bill is passed.

Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean asked if there are any current members sponsoring aliens, and Fanene replied that only the recently appointed members have been sponsors but they have been given 30 days to transfer the sponsorships to other people.

The bill was unanimously passed in a 13- 0 vote after the hearing in the Senate’s regular session.