Pacific / American Samoa

US federal court ruling gives American Samoans citizenship

13:52 pm on 13 December 2019

A US federal judge has ordered the government to grant birthright citizenship to individuals born in America Samoa.

Photo: 123rf

Although American Samoa is a US territory, American Samoans have to date been deemed non-citizen nationals.

The ruling occurred in a district court in Utah, where a group of American Samoans living in the state had filed a lawsuit.

They argued that they should be considered US citizens under the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to anyone born in the US.

The Constitution's grant of birthright citizenship applied to anyone born in a US state or territory.

People of other US unincorporated territories such as Puerto Rico, the Northern Marianas and Guam, already had US citizenship, but not American Samoans.

The anomaly has been a source of frustration for many American Samoans living on the US mainland where they have been ineligible for many federal opportunities.

It has prompted various challenges by American Samoans before the Utah lawsuit.

Now, Judge Clark Waddoups has ruled in favour of three American Samoan plaintiffs, that they should be included in the US Constitution's grant of birthright citizenship.

The plaintiffs were John Fitisemanu, Pale Tuli and Rosavita Tuli.