PAGO PAGO, 20 JANUARY 2020 (TALANEI NEWS) —- American Samoa Associate Justice Fiti Sunia says if over stayers from Samoa are refused by their government when deported, they can float between islands in a canoe.

Samoa News reports the judge made the comments during sentencing of a Samoan national who was convicted of second degree assault.

Teofilo Kuka pled guilty to assaulting a high school student with a tree branch, resulting in the student blacking out and requiring 12 staples to close the wound.

Kuka was discovered to be in the territory illegally.

Despite his illegal immigration status both the prosecutor and defense attorney recommended a probated sentence and that Kuka continue to remain in American Samoa.

An immigration officer testified that Kuka was granted permission to remain in American Samoa under the 2015 amnesty programme.

However his Immigration ID was not renewed when it expired in 2016. And he cannot be transferred into the new amnesty programme on offer now because his previous sponsor lives off island and he doesn’t have a replacement sponsor.

The court heard that the only option for the man was to depart the territory.

However Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey informed the court that the Samoa Government now requires several things before a citizen of their country can be returned there.

These include a health clearance, a court clearance and a determination that the person being deported has ties to Samoa.

Judge Sunia asked if there was a written policy from the Samoa Government and the prosecutor said she couldn’t recall. But every time they try to deport an over stayers to Samoa, the government rejects it,

Judge Sunia ordered, “Just send them back and if they send their people back to us after we deport them, let them float between the two islands on a canoe…don’t allow them back on our shores.”

He added if there is a piece of land that ties these over stayers to Samoa that means they belong to Samoa.

“These people were born in Samoa, not here. So they belong to Samoa. Again I don’t care what the Samoa Govt thinks of its people, just return them back. ”

Garvey informed the court that according to the information she received the new policy from Samoa was signed by the Prime Minister.

To that Sunia said, “The Prime Minister is not my boss. My boss is the people of American Samoa.”

Another hearing for Kuka is set for 30 January…. (PACNEWS)