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Source: Office of the Congresswoman

We are disappointed by the opinion of the Utah federal court in the Fitisemanu case. It will certainly come as a surprise to tens of thousands of American Samoans that a federal judge in Utah has ruled that they are now United States citizens.

Because the residents of American Samoa have vibrant democratic processes and already had a path to citizenship that I had worked to make even more accessible, the ruling is particularly unwelcomed and inappropriate. The Utah federal judge’s ruling is literally without precedent. It reaches the opposite conclusion from that of distinguished judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Unfortunately, the ruling did not address the concerns we had raised about the rights of the American Samoan people to decide their own status, both as individuals and as a people.

I have faith that God has the best for our Samoan people in mind and will work all things together for good. While there is room for American Samoans to have different opinions about whether to seek United States citizenship, there are deep concerns about having a distant federal judge decide these issues. 

The people of American Samoa have the most ancient culture in the islands of the Pacific, and it is integrally connected to the unique indigenous practices embodied in the Fa’a Samoa, our Samoan way of life, its land tenure and matai systems, that have been handed down proudly through the generations.

We are committed to the preservation of Fa’a Samoa, and we intend to appeal this ruling, even as we work to make sure that a path to individual citizenship is available and accessible to all American Samoans who choose to pursue it. I will keep our people apprised in every way I can, and continue to be guided by the wishes of those I directly represent in the islands in working with Governor Lolo Moliga and Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale.

Congresswoman Aumua Amata