7/24/20 – A 29 year old lady is threatened by her employer, a major retail store if she doesn’t return to work they will get Immigration involved and possibly take her to court. Yet in May 4, 2020 – After 3 years as a supervisor/manager (JM) submitted resignation to the store’s HR manager and left a phone number and address where she would stay pending their arrangements to return her to her country. Her ID and Passport were confiscated by Immigration
8/26/20 – Victim (JM) was thrown in TCF jail by the AS Immigration Office agents. She was arrested in front of the Homeland Security agents that went with her to the Immigration office to help sort out her problem and have her ID and passport returned to her.
The young woman was told by the Immigration Officers in front of the Immigration Chief Peseta Dennis Fuimaono that she had a choice. ‘ Either return to her abusive sponsors, owners of the retail store, or go to jail.’
8/28/20 – I went to the Attorney General’s office to ask who signed the arrest warrant and what crime did the victim commit. I was told by Ms Farrah one of the AG victims advocates, that the assistant AG Laura Garvey was aware of the situation and is awaiting for the victim’s files from the Immigration Office to be brought up. The hope was to get the victim out before the weekend.
8/31/20 – I visited the AG’s office again and was told by the AG victim’s advocate, the assistant Attorney General and the Attorney General Mitzie Taase were still awaiting for the victim’s files to be sent up from Chief of Immigration Office Peseta Dennis Fuimaono.
9/1/20 – I followed up with AG’s office. Files still not presented to the Attorney General.
9/2/20 – Catholic Social Services activated support system in TCF. Under heavy scrutiny by several officers the victim is visibly distraught, frightened and in deep fear as she cries out her story and at a total loss at being put in jail. She has not committed a crime. All she wanted to do was to leave an abusive employment condition and return to her country. As far as she knew and understood she had followed all policies.
9/3/20 – CSS visited victim to provide counseling support and reassurance, pending AG action.
9/4/20 – (JM) is still in jail. From back tracking the trail I went to the Homeland Security Office and was fortunate to speak with the Deputy Director Vinnie Atofau. He confirmed their attempt to sort out victim’s problem with Immigration officers and the AG’s office, unfortunately the victim was arrested on the spot.
9/5/20. I and Makerita of Catholic Social Services visited victim (JM) who is still in jail. She’s very frightened, depressed and paranoid of her situation not knowing who to trust. She fears for her family in anguish and are helpless to help or comfort her. After her weeping she wanted her story told to keep her visible.
It appeared to me as if the Immigration and the AG’s office closed ranks by order of their ‘boss’ to throw the victim into jail for attempting to leave her abusive employer and sponsor.
So many questions arise from this bizarre situation. Why was the victim’s ID and passport confiscated by the Immigration officers? Why was victim arrested? she did not commit a crime. Her ID doesn’t expire until 12/2020.
Why is victim being threatened and forced to return to her abusers and abusive conditions. The lockdown of our island is not her fault. This helpless immigrant young woman was thrown in jail without due process. No one was listening to the victim’s story or her cries.
I cannot fathom the logic here. All I can see as a victim advocate, are the signs of high powered bribery being in place. As far as I can see only the Governor’s office could sanction such criminal and blatant disregard for human rights.
Owners of the store where the victim works cannot pretend a denial in this matter or use a disclaimer to separate themselves. This situation goes back to their doorstep.
This can be seen as a Human Trafficking situation by forcibly confiscating the victims ID and travel documents, restricting her movements and freedom.
Threatening and throwing her in jail for not returning to the abusive sponsors and working conditions is, an act of enforced slavery and violation of the victims constitutional, civil and human rights.
Why is the Immigration Chief, Peseta Dennis Fuimaono trying to conceal the arrest of the victim. Why has the Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey and Attorney General Mitzie Ta’ase allowing this young lady to carry the full brunt of injustice in jail going on 13 days. Why is the victim being forced to return to her abusers and into abusive living conditions. Is American Samoa now promoting slavery and human trafficking of human beings from the Executive level?
Contrary to what appears to me as the tainted random practices and attitudes of the Immigration Office, the Attorney General’s Office and the Governor’s office on how AS controls their own immigration and they can do whatever they want? They are still under US laws and UN laws i.e. Fair Labor, Human Rights and Human Trafficking.
What a travesty of justice forced upon this young lady in jail, how would she have been able to reach outside for help if not for frightened friends. Is this American Samoa’s response to people who try and stand for their rights against abusive and tyrannical sponsors and employers.
How many other victims have already been treated this way by the rich, powerful and bribed? How many exploited young immigrant women are being forced to submit under the threat of being jailed, forcibly deported or allowed to be enslaved by the Chief of Immigration’s decisions. These are doors to sexually exploit and traffic women.
Who empowers this man to arbitrarily violate women’s rights? Who has the power to force the entire enforcement and legal system to stand down while this is happening. Have we as humans allowed ourselves to fall so far away from God’s grace that by our SILENCE we agree.
I challenge the Senators and members of the House of Representative to look into the repeated, shoddy, shameful and criminal acts being conducted against immigrants brought into American Samoa. Especially those who attempt to leave the sponsors employment to return to their country and being exploited and facing major repercussions when they don’t return to their abusive employers.
We have documentations of similar cases and attempted kidnappings through the Immigration Office that have been adjudicated and some pending… yet this form of human trafficking is still allowed.
The Word says, ‘don’t fear the one that can destroy the body. Fear the the ONE that can destroy both body and soul’. Witnesses names are withheld for obvious reasons.
Ipu Avegalio Lefiti