30 Sep 2014

Amnesty lifts American Samoa population

4:10 pm on 30 September 2014

American Samoa has more than 4,000 new lawful residents after immigration amnesty was provided under a bill signed by the Governor.

Samoans make up more than half of those who were previously without immigration status who have been pardoned.

Immigration law sets a quota on the number of foreigners to reside and work in the territory at 350 annually, but the amnesty has increased the total for this year.

The Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop, who sits on the amnesty board, says the pardons will allow people to continue to contribute to society.

Ms Jessop also says the territory will benefit by having more accurate numbers when it asks the US for assistance.

"We, here in the Executive Branch, could definitely feel the weight of people are living here because we are having to provide the services for these people but yet the census numbers didn't reflect the services we were providing. Now we can adjust everything that we do, adjust the services that we provide for people based on this more accurate count."