In a letter to Governor Lolo and the Fono, Congressman Faleomavaega today announced that he will introduce certain provisions in a reform immigration bill that Congress will be considering in the months ahead.
The full text of the Congressman’s letter to Governor Lolo and the Fono is included below:
Dear Governor Lolo:
As our people continue to face uncertainties in the area of immigration reform, I intend to introduce certain provisions addressing four major areas for our people and our Pacific Island community: 1) a provision to allow U.S. nationals to apply for U.S. citizenship directly from American Samoa; 2) a provision to determine a path to legal status for visa overstayers among Pacific Islanders; 3) a provision to determine a path to legal status for “stateless” individuals; and 4) a provision to determine a path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship for Pacific Island children of illegal aliens who fall within the provisions of the DREAM Act.
1) Direct Application for U.S. Nationals who Live in American Samoa:
For years, our people have been required to travel to Hawaii or another U.S. State and live there for at least three months before they qualify to apply for U.S. citizenship. In my opinion our people should be permitted to apply directly for citizenship from American Samoa. English and civics requirements should be waived as both subjects are taught in our schools. Application fees should be affordable for low income applicants, and a fee waiver program should also apply.
2) Path to Legal Status for Visa Overstayers:
I have also stressed the importance of addressing the needs of Samoans and other Pacific Islanders whose visas have expired while living in the United States. Currently, federal law requires immediate deportation for overstayers, imprisonment, or both. A path to legal status for visa overstayers must be a primary consideration as part of the current immigration reform efforts.
3) Path to Legal Status for “Stateless” Individuals:
I am concerned by the dilemma faced by “stateless” individuals, who are not citizens of any country. Unlike refugees or those who seek political asylum, stateless individuals often find themselves without a country to claim citizenship and nowhere to go. A good example of this is Mr. Mikhail Sebastian. There are two other stateless individuals who somehow managed to enter American Samoa under questionable circumstances. With more than 4,000 stateless people living in the United States, these individuals should be given legal residency as well.
4) Path to Permanent Residency and Citizenship for DREAM Act Minors:
I also support the DREAM Act legislation that will provide a path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship for Pacific Island children who were brought to the United States at an early age, with no legal status, and certainly by no fault of their own.
I welcome any suggestions or recommendations that your office and the Fono may want to include in this effort to improve federal immigration laws as they are applicable to our territory.
Faleomavaega concluded his letter by stating, “For your information, I have recently been named as Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) on Immigration Reform. I look forward to serving with my colleague Congressman Mike Honda of California, and I am confident that the needs of our Asia-Pacific American community will definitely be addressed before the Congress in the months to come.”