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Lolo and Eni commit to open and frank cooperation

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has expressed his appreciation for Congressman Faleomavaega Eni’s support of the territorial administration’s initiative to reform local immigration laws, which need to be strengthened in order to prevent the federal government from taking over local immigration, says the governor’s executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira.


Lolo met this week with Faleomavaega in Washington D.C. while the governor was in the nation’s capital for several meetings with federal officials. During their meeting the governor relayed to the congressman the administration’s move to reform local immigration laws, especially dealing with undocumented foreigners who enter the territory.


“Faleomavaega has committed his support to Lolo's initiative to reform our immigration process and governing laws. According to Faleomavaega, this is most opportune, because if no local effort is energized to address our corrupt immigration process, the Federal Government will step in to take over our Immigration,” said Iulogologo.


“Faleomavaega thanked Governor Lolo for adopting a proactive approaching in mitigating this long standing nemesis,” said Iulogologo via e-mail from Washington D.C. yesterday morning. “The governor was very encouraged by the commitment projected by Congressman Faleomavaega relative to open and frank cooperation between the two leaders.”


“The two leaders committed to tackling the immigration problem together, along with the establishment of a conducive economic environment to entice investment into the territory. The two leaders genuinely have adopted the mantra that through unity the needs of the people of American Samoa will be maximally served,” he said.


Additionally, “Faleomavaega also extended his appreciation to Governor Lolo for the bold actions that have been taken thus far to control the cost of government and to reduce waste and abuse.”


Iulogologo said the governor has reached out to Faleomavaega for assistance to ensure that issues affecting American Samoa are addressed in the U.S. Congress after the governor severed  relationships with lobbyists who advocated for the Territory's needs for past administrations. This was done to advance his commitment to one of his governance pillars of unity among all leaders of American Samoa, said Iuloglogo.


He recalled that in January this year, leaders of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary met with the Congressman for the first time "to advance the concept of collaboration and cooperation, and to ensure that the welfare of our people is continually improved.”


Following his meeting with the governor, Faleomavaega issued a news release relaying his proposal for introduction in the U.S. House, which will amend the federal laws pertaining to American Samoa and our Pacific island brothers and sisters. (See yesterday’s edition for details of the news release)


One proposal is to allow U.S. nationals to apply for U.S. citizenship directly from American Samoa instead of having to travel to, and reside in a state for three months before qualifying to apply for U.S. citizenship. This is not the first time that the congressman has made such a proposal.


During the last seating of the U.S. House, the congressman introduced the same bill ( in February 2012 ) and told Congressional members that the bill will lift the burden from U.S. Nationals, who by definition owe a permanent allegiance to the United States.


Asked for the governor’s reaction to this proposal, Iulogologo says that the “primary goal” of this proposal as explained by the Congressman, “is to simplify the process” for American Samoan nationals residing in the territory, making it easier for them to file for U.S. citizenship.


“The option to become a U.S. Citizen remains with the individual. This provision, according to Faleomavaega, does not automatically compel or force anyone to become a U.S. Citizen,” said Iulogologo. “Again, the objective is to provide seamless access and to reduce the cost of filing for U.S. Citizenship.”


“Governor Lolo appreciates this effort to afford our people some dignity wherein they can file U.S. Citizenship documents without leaving American Samoa and at the same time reduce the financial burden attached to activating this process,” said Iulogologo.


Faleomavaega also explained to Lolo that he wishes to help Samoans and other Pacific nationalities by setting up a process which these Pacific nationalities can employ to address their overstay status, and allow them to reside legally in the United States, said Iulogologo.


“This provision does not affect U. S. Nationals. The Governor does not envision any problems with this particular provision. The Congressman is attempting to provide a legal pathway for our brothers and sisters from the Independent State of Samoa and other Pacific Nationalities to live legally in the United States,” he added.