Samoan overstayer in custody

A Samoan national, who was found to be illegally residing in American Samoa, has been remanded in custody until his court hearing next week.

Victor Siliga has been charged with one count of public peace disturbance and third degree assault, both class A misdemeanors after he was arrested on September 1, 2020. 

He made his initial court appearance the following day, reports Samoa News. 

But due to his illegal immigration status, the court ordered that he be remanded in custody without bail to await a follow up hearing on the following morning, September 3.

On that day, Samoa News reports that Siliga failed to appear in court and his attorney, Assistant Public Defender, Ryan Anderson informed the court that he did not answer the phone when he called to inform him of his hearing.

According to the court, Siliga is remanded in custody without bail because of his illegal immigration status. But Anderson explained that his client was released after his initial appearance.

A subsequent court hearing was then scheduled for the next day, but when Siliga's name was called, he wasn't present in court. It wasn't until later, towards the end of the court's calendar that day, that Siliga was escorted in by a Territorial Correctional Facility guard.

When the court asked Siliga where he was, the defendant said he was in custody since he was arrested on September 1.

The court told the defendant that the name Siliga was calling numerous times in court, while Siliga was sitting inside a cell at TCF.

When the court asked the defendant about his immigration status, Siliga said his sponsor is off island.

“You told the court during your first hearing that your sponsor is a person by the name of Faamanu Talosaga. Is that right?” the court asked. Siliga said yes, adding that his sponsor is from Ottoville, Tafuna but currently off island for medical treatment.

“You also told the court that you are married, and your wife is working at the cannery,” Sunia continued. 

Siliga said his wife is a U.S. national. But Sunia looked confused and asked Siliga, why he needs a sponsor when his wife is a U.S. national.

He said his wife has already filed a petition to the Immigration Office to take over sponsorship from Fa’amanu Talosaga.

During Siliga’s hearing, an immigration officer testified that according to their records, Siliga is not married. He added that the Immigration Office had never received any petition from anybody in an effort to take over Siliga's sponsorship from his current sponsor, Faamanu Talosaga of Tafuna.

The court then asked Siliga, “are you lying to the court?” But Siliga only shook his head but didn't say a word.

“Alright, your next hearing is September 17. If you have any papers to prove your situation, bring it with you when you come to court that day. For now, you’re remanded to custody without bail,” the court ordered.

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