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U.S. District Court rules in favor of plaintiffs in citizenship lawsuit

U.S. Federal District Court building Salt Lake City, Utah

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — “Persons born in American Samoa are citizens of the United States by virtue of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” said US District Court Judge Clark Waddoups of the federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 69-page ruling issued Thursday, Dec. 12.

Additionally, any “[US] State Department policy that provides that the citizenship provisions of the Constitution do not apply to persons born in American Samoa violates the Fourteenth Amendment,” the judge said, and prohibited the federal government from enforcing its policies that prevent American Samoans from being granted US citizenship and issuance of a US passport, which shows that the holder is a US citizen.

Under current federal law, persons born in American Samoa are US nationals.

Waddoups’ decision was the result of a federal lawsuit filed early last year by three American Samoans — John Fitisemanu, Pale Tuli and Rosavita Tuli — who argue that because they were born in American Samoa, a US territory, they are entitled to citizenship under the 14th Amendment, the Citizenship clause of the US Constitution. The plaintiffs reside in Utah.

Defendants in the case include senior officials of the US State Department, while ASG and Congresswoman Aumua Amata were allowed to intervene in the case.

Details in tomorrow’s Samoa News edition.