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ADC Demands Clarification, Possible Federal Action on Anti-Arab American Samoa Policy

Washington, DC – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today called on the Bush Administration to urgently investigate and take action against a policy by the American territory of Samoa which discriminates against persons of Middle Eastern origin and others.
The Washington Post today reported that American Samoa Attorney General Fiti Sunia issued an alert that bans entry permits for citizens of 24 countries, most in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, without special permission from Samoan authorities. This rule revises an earlier ruling prohibiting entry to anyone “of Middle Eastern descent,” and ordered Samoan officials and airlines to “take special note” of visitors with “Middle Eastern surnames and features.”
In a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton today, ADC President Ziad Asali expressed serious concerns regarding both the previous and revised policies of American Samoa, and asked for clarification of the details of the new order. Dr. Asali pointed out that American Samoa is a territory of the United States that is bound by the United States Constitution. He urged the Interior Department and the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department to investigate the Samoan policies and ensure that they do not violate Constitutional protections.