Born in American Samoa? Want to be recognized as a citizen without having to naturalize? Take this survey!


If you are born in a U.S. territory, do you think you should have a right to U.S. citizenship? Based on a discriminatory law, people born in American Samoa are required to naturalize simply to be recognized as a U.S. citizen. This means paying a $725 fee, taking a U.S. civics exam, undergoing a background check, and waiting up to a year or more, all without any guarantee of success. Those living in American Samoa must first move stateside to even be eligible. Meanwhile, those born anywhere else in the United States - including other U.S. territories - are automatically citizens without having to naturalize.

Flag_Day_2013_8.jpgAt the same time, American Samoa has the highest rate of military service in the United States, with a casualty rate in Iraq and Afghanistan more than 7 times the national average. 

On June 15th, a federal court ruled that people born in American Samoa have no right to citizenship, and must navigate the challenging and expensive naturalization process if they want to be recognized as citizens. The court said citizenship is "not wanted" by American Samoans and that they have a "preference against citizenship" based on what elected officials in American Samoa have said.

While elected officials in American Samoa today are arguing against a right to citizenship, saying Congress should decide, American Samoa's traditional leaders not only supported citizenship, but believed (correctly) that American Samoans actually were citizens once their islands became a part of the United States in 1900 and 1904.

As prominent American Samoan Attorney Charles Ala'ilima recently explained to Congress:

When the United States flag was raised over Pago Pago harbor 120 years ago, our traditional leaders believed that as part of the deal for transferring sovereignty to the United States they would be recognized as U.S. citizens. It was not until 20 years later that they were informed by the U.S. Navy that in the eyes of the federal government they were not U.S. citizens, even as American Samoans had taken on the obligations of permanent allegiance to the United States. Thus the status of “non-citizen national” was invented – a status no one in the United States even imagined existed until it was imposed by the federal government on non-white overseas populations in the early 1900s, and a status no one in American Samoa asked for. ... Our past leaders had it right. So long as American Samoa is a part of the United States, citizenship by birth in American Samoa is a right guaranteed by the Constitution, not a privilege left to the whims of Congress. 

We've heard from over 1,300 American Samoans who want to be recognized as citizens without having to naturalize, including more than 250 living in American Samoa. We'd like to hear from you too. 

Do you think you should have a right to citizenship without having to naturalize?

Equally American is working with Attorney Charles Ala'ilima, the LA-based Samoan Federation of America, and the Southern Utah Pacific Islander Coalition to help ensure American Samoans can be recognized as citizens, without having to pay any fees or take any tests. 

If you'd like to be recognized as a U.S. citizen, we'd like to hear from you! Take this quick 2-3 minute survey. 

If you have questions, take a look at this FAQ which addresses misplaced concerns raised by American Samoa's elected officials that citizenship would have a negative impact on American Samoans self-determination or the preservation of land and culture.

Would you like to be recognized as a U.S. citizen without having to pay to naturalize?


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