Rachel Maddow took a few minutes yesterday to raise awareness about American Samoa, one of five territories that, along with the 50 states and District of Columbia, are part of the United States. Thanks Rachel!
Here's what happened. Freshman Congressman Kerry Bentivolio, acting as Speaker Pro Tem (presiding over the U.S. House), was charged with introducing Congressman Eni Faleomavaega, American Samoa's non-voting Delegate to Congress. He couldn't even get past pronouncing "American Samoa," instead pronouncing it "American Somalia." You really have to see it for yourself here.
Now that we've finished our pronunciation guide for American Samoa, here are a few more fun facts about American Samoa and U.S. territories.
- American Samoa has been a part of the United States for more than 110 years.
- American Samoa has among the highest rate of service in the U.S. Armed Forces.
- On a per capita basis, more American Samoans have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan than from any other jurisdiction.
- BUT . . . Americans living in American Samoa, along with 4 million Americans living in other U.S. territories, are unable to vote for President and lack voting representation in Congress.
- AND . . . While everyone born in American Samoa is recognized as an American, federal statutes label them with the subordinate status of "non-citizen national." As a result, these Americans must naturalize to be recognized as citizens!
Confused? If you think it's strange that Americans born in the United States can be denied citizenship simply because they were born in a U.S. territory, so do we. In fact, we think it's unconstitutional. Check out Tuaua v. United States to learn more about how we are helping Lene Tuaua and seven other American Samoans challenge the constitutionality of federal laws denying them recognition as full U.S. citizens.