IMMIGRATION

 

IMMIGRATION

 

Under American Samoan law, the term "undocumented aliens" means aliens who have reached the borders of American Samoa but have not been authorized to remain as residents in the territory.  Vaella’a v. Sunia, 1 A.S.R.3d 88 (1997).

 

Chairman of Immigration Board possessed capacity to sue where suit brought on his own behalf and where suit sought to prevent executive branch officials from usurping his powers.  Chairman was real party in interest and did not need separate, statutory authority to sue.  Vaella’a v. Sunia, 1 A.S.R.3d 88 (1997).

 

Chairman of Immigration Board was able to show standing to sue for declaratory relief where he claimed that defendants had usurped his powers by issuing amnesty to more than 2,000 previously undocumented aliens.  Plaintiff’s injury was concrete, particularized, actual, related to the defendants' challenged conduct and could be redressed by a favorable court ruling.  Vaella’a v. Sunia, 1 A.S.R.3d 88 (1997).

 

The power protect American Samoa's borders is vested in both the executive and legislative branches and the Governor's authority over immigration matters is limited by the statutory grant of the Legislature.  Vaella’a v. Sunia, 1 A.S.R.3d 88 (1997).

 

The Immigration Board possesses jurisdiction to issue authorizations to aliens so that they may remain in American Samoa. Vaella’a v. Sunia, 1 A.S.R.3d 88 (1997).

 

The Attorney General is charged with the administration and enforcement of the immigration laws except insofar as such laws relate to the powers, functions, and duties of the Immigration Board.  Vaella’a v. Sunia, 1 A.S.R.3d 88 (1997).

 

Where Governor initiated amnesty program, allowing undocumented aliens to remain in territory, such program did not effectuate the purpose of limiting entry into American Samoa set forth in A.S.C.A. § 41.0201(b).  Simply naming a program an "amnesty" program does not bring it within the scope of the Governor's pardoning power.  The Governor’s pardoning power is limited to granting reprieves for past offenses and can only be exercised after an individual has been convicted.  Although Governor may grant pardons, or amnesty, after convictions for immigration violations, he isn’t empowered to change a particular undocumented alien's immigration status.  Vaella’a v. Sunia, 1 A.S.R.3d 88 (1997).

 

The governor's constitutional pardoning power is expressly limited to pardons, even if that term is broadly construed to include amnesty grants, bestowed after convictions for criminal offenses.  Even when the governor properly applies his pardoning power, the grantee's immigration status must still be approved in compliance with the immigration laws of American Samoa. Vaella’a v. Sunia, 1 A.S.R.3d 134 (1997).

 

The Governor is without authority to grant amnesty to undocumented aliens under his constitutional pardoning power or by other means.  The governor can be empowered with that authority only by constitutional amendment or by legislative enactment. Vaella’a v. Sunia, 1 A.S.R.3d 134 (1997).

 

 Even assuming the Attorney General has general authority to make original decisions on the immigration issues listed in A.S.C.A. § 41.0303, the Immigration Board remains ultimately responsible under A.S.C.A. § 41.0205(1) for the attorney general's decisions in these matters.  Vaella’a v. Sunia, 1 A.S.R.3d 134 (1997).

 

Constitutional statutory authority is always paramount to administrative rule authority. Vaella’a v. Sunia, 1 A.S.R.3d 134 (1997).

 

The Immigration Board does not lose either its authority to make or responsibility for consummated decisions to grant first authorizations to remain simply by delegating any such power to the attorney general.  Vaella’a v. Sunia, 1 A.S.R.3d 134 (1997).

 

The Governor is without authority to grant amnesty to undocumented aliens, who have not been convicted of any criminal offense related to their illegal presence in American Samoa, in the absence of an effective constitutional amendment or legislation authorizing the governor to grant amnesty to undocumented aliens.  Vaella’a v. Sunia, 1 A.S.R.3d 134 (1997).