Lawsuit over American Samoa citizenship dismissed

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Associated Press

Posted on June 27, 2013 at 4:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 27 at 4:33 PM

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) — A federal judge in Washington, D.C., is dismissing a lawsuit filed by five American Samoa residents who say people born in the unincorporated U.S. territory should automatically receive U.S. citizenship.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled this week that the 14th Amendment's citizenship clause doesn't apply to people born in American Samoa.

Immigration laws classify people born in American Samoa as U.S. nationals, but it's the only U.S. territory where U.S. citizenship is not a birthright.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Wynne Kelly argued that Congress has the power to determine the naturalization process for potential citizens, and the lawsuit was trying to sidestep that.

Eni Faleomavaega (EHN'-ee FAHL'-ee-oh-ma-vah-ENG'-uh), the territory's non-voting delegate to the U.S. House, filed a brief last year arguing that Congress is the proper venue to decide citizenship, not the courts.

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