Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

Court rules against citizenship for American Samoans

California residents may not be aware that those born in some U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico are granted automatic U.S. citizenship, but individuals born in others like American Samoa are not. A group of American Samoans decided to challenge this state of affairs by filing a lawsuit, but a June 5 federal appeals court ruling preserved the current law. The three judges who heard the case concluded that the 14th Amendment does not grant U.S. citizenship automatically to those born in an unincorporated political territory of the United States.

While many American Samoan residents likely hoped that the lawsuit would be successful, the litigation failed to garner support from the territory's government officials. The judges hearing the case expressed reluctance to make a ruling that many in American Samoa would not be in agreement with, but observers point out that objections to automatic citizenship are often based on a desire to preserve rules that prevent those with no American Samoan ancestry from owning land.

The ruling preserves laws that require American Samoans to move to the United States and maintain residence for three months or longer before they can apply for naturalization. Critics of the laws say that this not only causes a great deal of inconvenience for American Samoans, but it also effectively turns U.S. citizenship into an unobtainable dream for many of the territory's poorer residents.

An appeals court citing the citizenship provisions of the 14th Amendment as a reason to deny citizenship to those born in a U.S. territory is an indication of how complex and ambiguous immigration law can be. Experienced naturalization attorneys may pay close attention to judicial rulings in immigration cases in order to provide their clients with advice and strategies based on the latest information.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Lawyers Your Can Trust

Our Office Locations

Orange Office
333 City Boulevard West Ste. 1918
Orange, CA 92868

Toll Free: 800-352-7034
Phone: 714-919-8880
Orange Law Office Map

Sacramento Office
2730 Gateway Oaks Dr. Ste. 110
Sacramento, CA 95833

Toll Free: 800-352-7034
Phone: 916-643-4657
Sacramento Law Office Map

Riverside Office
3403 Tenth Street Ste. 742
Riverside, CA 92501

Toll Free: 800-352-7034
Phone: 951-787-0010
Riverside Law Office Map

Salt Lake City Office
675 E 2100 S, Ste. 300
Salt Lake City, UT 84106

Toll Free: 800-352-7034
Phone: 801-594-9999
Salt Lake City Law Office Map

Orem Office
1145 South 800 East
Orem, UT 84097

Toll Free: 800-352-7034
Phone: 801-594-9999
Map & Directions

San Bruno Office
1001 Bayhill Drive
Ste. 200
San Bruno, CA 94066

Toll Free: 800-352-7034
Phone: 650-243-0475
Map & Directions

Boise Office
950 W Bannock Street
Ste. 1100
Boise, ID 83702

Toll Free: 800-352-7034
Phone: 208-391-2020
Fax: 208-485-7969
Map & Directions

Fresno Office
8050 N Palm
Ste. 300
Fresno, CA 93711

Toll Free: 800-352-7034
Phone: 559-490-1490
Fax: 888-448-0638
Map & Directions