|September 17, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—FALEOMAVAEGA PROVIDES UPDATE ON FEDERAL AIRPORT SCREENERS FOR AMERICAN SAMOA|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that the U.S. Department of Transportation has informed
his office that U.S. nationals will be encouraged and permitted to apply
for jobs as airport security screeners.
“I brought this matter to the attention of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, the Honorable Norm Mineta, on March 4, 2002,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “In my letter to the Secretary, I respectfully requested his assistance and support in implementing hiring criteria which would allow U.S. nationals to be hired as airport security screeners. I explained that U.S. nationals from American Samoa have a 100-year history of service to the United States and have repeatedly demonstrated their allegiance in important ways.”
“Secretary Mineta acknowledged my request on March 6, 2002,” Faleomavaega said. “On June 3, 2002, Secretary Mineta again wrote to me and acknowledged that U.S. nationals from American Samoa have demonstrated their service to the United States in many ways over the past century.”
The Secretary further wrote, “Having worked closely with you during our service together in the Congress to ensure that the status of American Samoans is fully recognized, I am aware of the implications of this issue. Although we are currently involved in litigation over the constitutionality of limiting employment to U.S. citizens, we recognize that the practical problem of employing sufficient numbers of qualified airport security screeners in American Samoa may make adjustment of this provision to allow U.S. national screeners there a desirable and necessary step. We are addressing this questions now, and I will provide you with a decision on this question as soon as practicable,” Secretary Mineta concluded.
“Last month, Secretary Mineta informed my office that the U.S. Department of Transportation has favorably considered my request and U.S. nationals will be encouraged to apply for jobs as airport security screeners,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “To ensure that this becomes a matter of public law, the Department of Transportation will forward its recommendation to the U.S. Congress. It is anticipated that Congress will address this issue within the next month by way of a technical corrections bill to the Transportation Security Act. As soon as this becomes a matter of law, U.S. nationals can be hired as airport security screeners.”
“In anticipation that a technical corrections bill would be brought to the House Floor, I introduced H.R. 3467 in December of last year which would allow U.S. nationals to qualify as airport security screeners. I also brought the matter to the attention of the Honorable Don Young, Republican Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, in late November of last year.”
“On January 4, 2002, Chairman Young responded to my letter and informed me that it was his intention to introduce a technical corrections bill that would include relatively minor changes to the security act and that this might provide us with an opportunity to also consider my suggestion,” Faleomavaega said. “It is now anticipated that the technical corrections bill will come to the Floor of the House before Congress concludes its business for this session and the bill will include my recommendation to allow U.S. nationals to be hired as airport security screeners.”
“I am pleased that both the Republican House leadership and the U.S. Department of Transportation have supported my request to amend Title 49 of the U.S. Code to allow U.S. nationals to be Federal airport security screening personnel,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “I have worked for almost a year to see that this matter is favorably resolved and I thank Chairman Young and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Norm Mineta, for their support in also ensuring that U.S. nationals will be allowed to secure our homeland in these critical times.”
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