Give American Samoans Birthright Citizenship

Target: Chief Justice John Roberts

Goal: Grant American Samoans the same rights as other Americans by giving them birthright citizenship.

American Samoa is the only U.S. territory in which people are not automatically considered American citizens. The Los Angeles-based Samoan Federation of America is making an appeal to the Supreme Court to grant American Samoans birthright citizenship. All other states and territories have this right except American Samoa, whose people are just U.S. nationals who have to go through the lengthy naturalization process to become citizens. These people fight in our wars; the least the government could do is give them birthright citizenship.

As nationals, American Samoans can serve in the military but can not be officers, nor can they hold top government positions. The president of the Samoan Federation of America describes this best saying, “I see young men and women go to war to fight for the United States. They are willing to die for a country that is not fully theirs and for a nation that doesn’t fully accept them as citizens.”

The reason that American Samoans exclusively do not have birthright citizenship is due to the racist and imperialistic Insular Cases. These rulings said that to give full rights to the people in lands “inhabited by alien races” might threaten the “development of the American empire.”

It has been over a hundred years since these cases were held, and while they have been declared “politically incorrect,” nothing has been done to correct them. You can help to enact change by signing this petition, demanding that American Samoans be given birthright citizenship.


Dear Chief Justice Roberts,

The Samoan Federation of America has recently made an appeal to the Supreme Court concerning birthright citizenship for American Samoans and it would be wise to grant it to them. All U.S. states and territories have birthright citizenship except American Samoa, and to exclude only them is unfair and does not make any sense. They fight and die in wars to protect this country, so it would be downright disrespectful to keep them as just nationals.

The first line of the Fourteenth Amendment states that, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States.” Senator Lyman Trumbull, a sponsor of the amendment, said that birthright citizenship extended “to persons everywhere, whether in the states, or in the Territories, or in the District of Columbia.”

There is no reason to continue to deny American Samoans of their rights. Please grant American Samoans birthright citizenship.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Tobias Jakobs

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  1. Gillian Miller says:

    Is a US territory the same thing as the American country? As far as I am aware, Samoa is near New Zealand and a country in its own right.

    • Jenna Newman says:

      American territories are sub-national administrative divisions directly overseen by the United States federal government (unlike U.S. states, which share sovereignty with the federal government). They are self-governing with locally elected governors and territorial legislatures, but they are not independent countries. They still follow American federal law. Territories can become independent countries, like the Philippine did, or become states, like the states in the Ohio Territory.

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