American Samoans considered US nationals, but not US citizens

The 56,000 residents of American Samoa can work, travel freely and join the US army, but they are not considered citizens

The federal court in Washington DC has dismissed the citizenship lawsuit filed last July by five American Samoans and a California based organisation, whose suit asked the court to declare that all persons born in American Samoa should become US citizens.

American Samoans are today considered US nationals, but not US citizens. This means they can work, travel freely and join the US military, but they cannot vote in federal elections or attend jury duty.

Defendants in the suit were the federal government, and three US State Department officials who last year asked the court to dismiss the case.

Congressman of American Samoa, Faleomavaega Eni, supported the State Department.

On Tuesday this week, the American Samoa Government filed a motion to intervene but was dismissed yesterday by the federal court saying the issue is now moot due to the ruling in the case. 

“Although we are glad that Judge Leon recognised that ‘none of the Insular Cases directly addressed the Citizenship Clause’, we are disappointed that he was not willing to consider those century-old cases in light of more recent court decisions that explain the need to focus on American Samoa’s unique history and modern circumstances,” said local attorney Charles Alailima, according to Samoa News.


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