Why are people born in American Samoa not recognized as U.S. citizens?


When American Samoa's traditional leaders signed the Deeds of Cession in 1900 and 1904 transferring sovereignty to the United States, they believed that in return they would be recognized as U.S. citizens, while continuing to ensure protection of their land and culture. 


However, without any basis in the law, and contrary to the desires of American Samoa's leaders, officials at the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Navy refused to recognize American Samoans as citizens, labeling them instead with the inferior status of "non-citizen national."  It was not until 1940 though that Congress passed a statute formally denying American Samoans recognition as U.S. citizens. 


Today, a child born in American Samoa is only recognized as a U.S. citizen if he or she has a parent who is recognized as a U.S. citizen - all other children born in American Samoa continue to be labeled as "non-citizen nationals."

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