Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that at his request Chairman Nick Rahall of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and Chairwoman Donna Christensen of the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, have joined him in calling upon the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a comprehensive review of American Samoa’s immigration and customs laws. A full copy of their letter of November 1, 2007 to Mr. David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, is included below.
Dear Mr. Walker:
We are writing to request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a comprehensive review of the current immigration system in American Samoa given the Territory’s unique political relationship with the United States which is based on two treaties of cession.
In April 1900, the traditional chiefs of Tutuila and Aunu’u islands ceded their islands to the US on condition that local customs, culture and communal lands of the local inhabitants would be protected. In July 1904, His Majesty King Tuimanu’a ceded the islands of Manu’a based on the same premise.
In 1929, Congress, by law, ratified the two treaties and assigned administration of the islands to the President and his appointees. Until 1951, the US Navy administered the islands. In 1951, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 10264 which transferred administrative responsibility for the islands of American Samoa from the Secretary of the Navy to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
In 1960, the people of American Samoa adopted a Constitution. The Constitution was revised in 1966 and was approved by the Secretary of the Interior on June 2, 1967 by authority of the 1929 Act of Congress. Nevertheless, US immigration and customs laws do not apply, nor have they ever applied, to American Samoa.
For this reason, we are asking the GAO to review why US immigration and custom laws were never made applicable to American Samoa and to answer the following questions:
1. What is the current status of American Samoa’s immigration and customs laws?
2. Does American Samoa have the ability and capacity to enforce its own immigration and customs laws?
3. What are the social and economic implications if ASG does not, or cannot, enforce its immigration and custom laws?
4. What is the educational background and level of training of American Samoa’s local immigration and customs officials?
5. Who can sponsor aliens to work in American Samoa?
6. How does the process of sponsorship work?
7. Given that American Samoa’s Attorney General is conducting an investigation into possible fraud and corruption within the local personnel offices of Immigration and Customs, how pervasive is the practice of local immigration officials sponsoring aliens to work either for them or for other companies?
8. What is the relationship between American Samoa’s immigration and customs laws, sponsorship of aliens, and the Daewoosa human trafficking case?
9. In view of Daewoosa, should American Samoa continue to administer its own immigration and customs laws?
10. If American Samoa should continue to administer its own immigration and customs laws, what measures, if any, should be implemented?
11. What are the implications if US customs and immigration laws are made applicable to the American Samoa?
12. Should US immigration and customs laws be made applicable to American Samoa?