Law Institute seeks to file brief in citizenship lawsuit
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Last week Friday, the Washington D.C. based non-profit, Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) sought permission from the federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah to be allowed to file an ‘Amicus Curiae’ or friends of the court, brief in the US citizenship lawsuit case, in which three America Samoans — living in Utah — are plaintiffs.
IRLI is a public interest law firm dedicated to litigating immigration-related cases on behalf of, and in the interests of, United States citizens and legal permanent residents, and also to assisting courts in understanding and accurately applying federal immigration law, according to the IRLI motion, which also cites some of the immigration cases that they were participants.
IRLI claimed that it is considered an expert in immigration law by the federal Board of Immigration Appeals, and has prepared amicus briefs for the Board, at the request of that body, for more than twenty years.
According to IRLI, the parties in the current case have consented to the filing of the amicus curiae brief. Additionally, it takes no position on the plaintiffs claim, that because they were born in American Samoa, a US territory, they are entitled to US citizenship under the Citizenship Clause of the US Constitution.
In its summary of argument, IRLI said this case should be decided pursuant to two seminal United States Supreme Court cases construing the Citizenship Clause: United States v. Wong Kim Ark in 1898, and Elk v. Wilkins in 1884.
Both cases, said IRLI, were decided by the same justice, Justice Gray, and when read carefully and properly, together stand for the following rule: “if, and only if, one was born in the United States to a United States resident who, at that time, both had permission to be in the United States and owed direct and immediate allegiance to the United States, one is a United States citizen by virtue of the Citizenship Clause.”
According to IRLI, this rule applies to current plaintiffs’ claim of birthright citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment as follows:
• If, as the government argues, American Samoa is not in the United States for purposes of the Citizenship Clause, then, obviously, plaintiffs lack birthright citizenship because they were not born in the United States.
• If, as plaintiffs contend, American Samoa is in the United States for these purposes, then, obviously, plaintiffs’ American Samoan parents were United States residents who had permission to be in the United States.
“According to the above rule, plaintiffs’ birthright citizenship would then depend on the further question of whether plaintiffs’ American Samoan parents owed direct and immediate allegiance to the United States,” said IRLI adding that it takes no position on whether American Samoa is in the United States for Citizenship Clause purposes, nor on whether plaintiffs’ American Samoan parents owed direct and immediate allegiance to the United States. It therefor takes no position on whether plaintiffs have birthright citizenship under the rule it derives.