American Samoa residents sue for citizenship

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American Samoa residents are suing to earn citizenship at birth, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Residents of the U.S. territory aren’t considered citizens, but are recognized as U.S. nationals.

This means the residents are not permitted to vote, sponsor relatives immigrating to the U.S. or run for office. However, they do pay taxes to the U.S.

The lawsuit was filed by American Samoa residents living in Utah. They are suing for the right to citizenship under the 14th Amendment, which grants American citizenship at birth to anyone born in the country, the AP reported.


The lead plaintiff, John Fitisemanu, says in the lawsuit he has “been discouraged from applying for certain federal and state jobs that list U.S. citizenship as an eligibility requirement, diminishing his employment opportunities.”

The residents suing in the case also claim they face restrictions overseas that don’t apply to American citizens, and sometimes have to obtain special permits or pay additional fees, according to the AP.

Residents of the South Pacific territory are allowed to obtain naturalized citizenship, but it’s a “lengthy, costly, and burdensome” process, according to the lawsuit.

About 55,000 people live on the seven islands that make up the territory. The islands became a U.S. territory in 1900.

Tags American Samoa Citizenship

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