American Samoa Amnesty Update

By David North on April 29, 2014

About a month ago, I wrote a blog regarding the ongoing amnesty in American Samoa with the headline "Could we have 13,276,000 Legalization Applicants?"

The big number was based on the not-necessarily-valid assumption that the percentage of illegal aliens in the South Pacific territory and in the United States would be about the same, and that American Samoa's amnesty had enrolled 2,400 applicants in its program by that point. American Samoa, alone of the territories, runs its own immigration system.

Now, the Samoa News reports that the figure should be 3,756, or more than 50 percent more than originally stated. If you project that figure, as a percentage, to the U.S. mainland, you get the thumping estimate of 20,871,000 legalization applicants. (For readers interested in the math, see the prior blog.)

The most recent Samoa News article said that the latest total for new applicants was 2,466, which was close to the original figure, but that there was another, similar, population of 1,630 applicants on a previously undisclosed amnesty waiting list. Of those "about 340" had applied again, so they were duplicates. These additions and subtractions more or less produce the 3,756 total.

The counsel to the governor and chair of the amnesty committee, Steven Watson, said "[T]hese numbers remain a bit soft but they are close to, within a handful."

As suggested in my earlier blog, the vast majority of the 2,466 new applicants were from nearby Samoa (once Western Samoa) and accounted for 1,663 of them; next were delegations of 335 from the Philippines, 315 from nearby Tonga, 67 from China, 58 from Fiji, and 11 from Vietnam. There were much smaller numbers from Australia, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, and Taiwan.

I was initially feeling grumpy that the paper had not mentioned the waiting list in its earlier coverage, then I remembered that two days earlier I had sent an email message to the editor saying that they should run another story on the amnesty, when all the numbers were in — and they had done so!

Would that the New York Times were so responsive!