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Forum reveals wide support for U.S. Nationals applying for citizenship from here

A majority of the 15 members of the community who testified at last Thursday night’s public forum supported Congressman Faleomavaega Eni’s proposal to allow U.S. Nationals residing in American Samoa to apply directly from here for U.S. Citizenship.

Faleomavaega stressed during the forum that this proposal “does not force anyone to become a U.S. citizen” but provides an option — instead of the current federal law— which requires U.S. Nationals to live for a certain period of time in any state before being eligible to be apply for citizenship.

He said the current process is costly, wherein the U.S. National has to travel and live in the U.S. He said the cost of air fare is high and living expenses mean a lot of money to deal with.

Ruby Reid testified that she supports this proposal “which is an option” for U.S. Nationals living in the territory who don’t want to live in the U.S. in order to qualify for citizenship. This was also supported by Esther Wall.

If the measure is introduced in the U.S. Congress, Reid hopes that congressional members would consider this measure for approval.

Sandra King-Young said she sees nothing wrong with this proposal, especially when it makes it easy to apply for citizenship from the territory. “The current process is burdensome,” she added.

Moli Lemana, who supports the proposal, said that U.S. Nationals who travel to the U.S. don’t get all the benefits a U.S. citizen receives in America.

Rep. Va’amua Henry Sesepasara told the Congressman that “I support anything you can do to make it easy to get U.S. citizenship” adding that this is a choice, and he chose a long time ago when he was living in the U.S. not to be a U.S. citizen.

At least two other witnesses who testified believed that the best solution to address this matter is to have it put forth in a referendum for the upcoming November general election.

A few residents who were not able to attend the Thursday public forum, said in separate e-mails to Samoa News that they would prefer to have this issue put on a referendum for voters to decide upon, since it is the best way get a wider audience to cast a vote on this proposal.

Faleomavaega told the audience during the public forum this can be done via a Fono resolution that can be put forth for voters to decide upon.

He also pointed out that this proposal has yet to be introduced in Congress and if it is introduced, there is no clear indication if Congress will get to this issue because of the many other pending matters they currently face.

According to Faleomavaega, he has not yet received an official opinion from the Togiola administration on this matter, or on the proposal that would allow foreigners who have lived legally in the territory for a certain number of years to become U.S. Nationals.

He said draft copies of the proposals were sent last year to the governor as well as the Fono, whose members appears to have no problem with the issue of U.S. Nationals applying from here for U.S. Citizenship, but who have voiced a lot of concern with the proposal dealing with foreigners becoming U.S. Nationals.