American Samoa natives sue for US citizenship birthright News
American Samoa natives sue for US citizenship birthright
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[JURIST] Several natives of the US territory American Samoa [official website] on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit in Washington, DC, arguing that those born in American Samoa should be granted automatic US citizenship. The lawsuit challenges federal laws [Reuters report] that except American Samoa from the rule pertaining to all other US territories that US citizenship is bestowed as a birthright. American Samoa has a population of approximately 68,000 [CIA World Factbook profile]. Those born there are US nationals who must follow the same procedures for naturalization as permanent legal residents, or they can claim citizenship if at birth they had a parent who was a citizen. Otherwise they receive passports with an imprint noting their statuses as non-citizen US nationals. The lawsuit claims that this status violates the Fourteenth Amendment [text] guarantee that “All persons born … in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States” [Cornell LII backgrounder]. However, many in American Samoa do not want automatic citizenship [AP report], as it would place all those born in the territory under the jurisdiction of the entire US Constitution, precluding certain communal land ownership rules unique to American Samoa, such as favoring those with Samoan blood. US Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.