2 Jun 2016

American Samoa citizenship case reaches US Supreme Court

4:54 pm on 2 June 2016
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Photo: 123RF

The United States Supreme Court will next week consider a petition from five American Samoans arguing they are entitled to US citizenship.

The plaintiffs, who include a California-based Samoan organisation led by Leneuoti Tuaua, say their case 'undisputedly presents a constitutional question of tremendous importance.'

Currently, American Samoans are considered US residents, not citizens, which denies the territory and its people several constitutional rights and provisions.

But the plaintiffs say that since they were born in American Samoa, they are entitled to birthright citizenship under the Constitution of the United States.

However, the State Department, along with the American Samoa Government and the territory's Congresswoman Aumua Amata, oppose it.

They say a lower court ruling, which was upheld by the appeals court, correctly stated that only the US Congress has authority to grant citizenship to outlying territories, such as American Samoa.

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