Wednesday, February 5, 2014

DC Circuit to Review American Samoa Citizenship Case

Leneuoti Tuaua and five other plaintiffs who are challenging federal laws that deny U.S. citizenship to people born in American Samoa will have their day in court, now that the D.C. Circuit has denied the Government’s request to summarily affirm a district judge’s earlier dismissal of the case. The challenged federal laws label Mr. Tuaua and others born in American Samoa as “nationals, but not citizens, of the United States,” meaning they are Americans, just not citizens. The inferior status of “non-citizen U.S. national” – which today is limited to people born in American Samoa – can impact voting rights, employment opportunities, military service, immigration sponsorship, and more. American Samoa, which is located in the South Pacific, has been part of the United States for more than a century. It has among the highest rates of U.S. military service of any U.S. jurisdiction, with a casualty rate in Iraq and Afghanistan more than seven times the national average. 

Read the full press release on the case from "We the People."

It is expected that the D.C. Circuit will issue a scheduling order in the coming weeks, with briefing to take place over the next several months and an oral argument possible this summer. Serving as co-counsel in Tuaua is Arnold & Porter LLP, an international law firm, and Charles V. Ala’ilima, a prominent American Samoan attorney.

Case materials in Tuaua, including the D.C. Circuits order and the District Court’s decision below, are available here. More information about the Tuaua plaintiffs is available here.

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