Local agents for Samoa Shipping Corporation have confirmed that there have been at least two incidents this year where pregnant women arriving on the Lady Naomi from Samoa were stopped from enering the territory.
They were made to return on the boat’s return trip to Samoa 8 hours later.
An official of Polynesia Shipping, the local agent for the Lady Naomi, said in one case the pregnant woman was not allowed to disembark but to wait on board the vessel.
While in the second case, the expectant mother was allowed to go home with her relatives and return for the trip to Samoa the same day.
American Samoa Immigration forbids non US citizens and non US national women who are 6 months pregnant from entering the territory.
The policy, which was put in place 20 years ago was intended to prevent foreigners coming here to give birth just so that their babies can obtain US national status, but who had no ties to the territory or were paying any taxes here.
The Polynesia Shipping spokesperson said it’s difficult to enforce the policy on pregnant women.
When agents ask pregnant passengers how far along they are the response is also 2-4 months.
He said they cant tell from the size of the woman’s stomach how far along their pregnancies are.
The issue came up during the 2 Samoa talks in Apia last week.
Minutes of the discussions obtained by KHJ News say that Samoa raised the concern relating to pregnant women from Samoa not being able to disembark the vessel upon arrival but simply asked to return the return trip of the boat even with the issuance of a valid entry permit.
American Samoa noted that this may be related to an immigration issue to prevent foreign women from exploiting medical care in American Samoa.
Both sides agreed that this situation is in breach of human rights and American Samoa agreed to look into alleviating this.