American deportees arrive

By Joyetter Feagaimaali'i 05 February 2021, 12:00AM

Five deportees from America touched down at Faleolo International Airport Friday morning. 

“The [Ministry of] Police and Prisons were in charge of escorting the deportees from the Airport to their destination where they will be isolated for 21 days and then they will be released,” Police Minister Tialavea Tionisio Hunt told the Samoa Observer. 

He confirmed the deportees were escorted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.). They were greeted by quarantine officials in personal protective equipment before being taken in for compulsory quarantine of 21 days.

“They are free men and they will leave after the required quarantine time,” Tialavea said. 

The Minister told the Samoa Observer the deportees have already served their time and they should be given a chance to return to normality. 

“Members of the public should not be alarmed by the men who have been sent back from the United States of America,” he said.  

“After their quarantine time, they will be transferred to the Samoa Returnees Charitable Trust programme.” 

Last month the Government approved a year-long request from the United States Government to deport Samoan citizens guilty of criminal offences committed on American soil ranging from fatal traffic offences to domestic violence.

The flight was chartered and paid for by the American Government. 

The interim Chairman of the National Emergency Operation Centre (N.E.O.C.) Agafili Shem Leo said: “All five of the returning Samoan citizens are men.”

The flight is one of several repatriation flights scheduled this year for citizens who had been stranded overseas amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It is our responsibility to return our citizens (the deportees) who were born here and migrated to mainland America via American Samoa and Hawaii,” Agafili said. 


“They have convictions for traffic offences that caused death, assault, theft and even beating up their wives that resulted in her reporting [deportees to the authorities]…” said Agafili. 

He said the offenders will join the Samoa Returnees Charitable Trust programme. 

The programme that was established by the Government in 2013 is to help the returnees resettle and for rehabilitation, Agafili added. 

He said some of the deportees became married and had children while in the United States but had not processed their immigration papers to allow them to legally reside in a country.  

Last week, AP reported the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported immigrants to at least three countries: 15 people to Jamaica on Thursday and 269 people to Guatemala and Honduras. Deportation flights were scheduled to continue on Monday.

It's unclear how many of those people are considered national security or public safety threats.

Samoa was removed from a list of countries eligible for certain classes of working visa in America last month due to the Government's alleged non-compliance with requests from immigration authorities in America, including those relating to the deportation of citizens.  


By Joyetter Feagaimaali'i 05 February 2021, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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