12 Jul 2012

American Samoa's US citizenhip status challenged

3:09 pm on 12 July 2012

A law suit has been in a US Federal court challenging the constitutionality of federal laws that deny US citizenship to persons born in American Samoa.

The plaintiffs are three local residents and two off-island residents who were all born in American Samoa, plus a US-based NGO called the Samoan Federation of America.

Their suit names as defendants the United States of America, the US Department of State, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the US assistant secretary of state Janice Jacobs.

According to the group, federal law classifies persons born in American Samoa as so-called non citizen nationals.

They say American Samoans are the only Americans to whom the US State Department issues passports that state that the bearer is a US National and Not a US Citizen.

The lead plaintiff Leneuoti Tuaua says if they are Americans, why are they not citizens.

"I want to be treated just like any other US citizen, as long as we serve in the military and serve the US government should be granted that right. It is a fundamental right of any person living in this territory."

Leneuoti Tuaua.