OPINION: American Samoa Congressional Delegate Proposes Easier Path To Citizenship For AMERICAN Samoans

Photo Credit: 
American Samoa Government Website
AMERICAN SAMOA celebrates Flag Day on the anniversary of the raising of the US and AMERICAN Samoan flag over 100 years ago.

(AUCKLAND, New Zealand) - In response to a recent The Hill article that covered the latest lawsuit for birthright citizenship, the Hon. Delegate to Congress for AMERICAN SAMOA, Amata Radewagen, wrote “the Hill’s headline ‘American Samoa residents sue for citizenship’ is not accurate”. She’s right. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are no longer residents of American Samoa, but are residents of the Great State of Utah. She goes on the explain that the majority of American Samoans who reside in American Samoa do not desire birthright citizenship and prefer to maintain the status quo, and that the courts have agreed with the majority to support the status quo.

A few years ago, a District Court Judge in the case titled Tuaua v. United States, rejected these same arguments. The DC Court of Appeals rejected these theories again, ruling by a 3-0 margin and the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal on the case. The majority of the elected and traditional leaders in American Samoa filed briefs in opposition to the plaintiffs attempt at a universal citizenship mandate for American Samoans, fully expressing the broad sentiment of the people of American Samoa and the courts to date have unanimously agreed with that majority of the populace.

- Radewagen, http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/383026-preserve-choice-but-simplify-citizenship-for-us-nationals

However, and this is where Amata has taken a step in the right direction, rather than just lay out how the majority who reside in American Samoa are opposed to yet another attempt to use the courts to take away their rights to self determine their individual choice to naturalize or not, Amata is proposing a legislative solution that would ease the naturalization process for Americans Samoans. This is a solution that all Americans should support as it addresses the minor injustice of bureaucratic inconvenience for U.S. Nationals, who are legal residents from birth, raised and educated in American schools, speak English with a California accent, and who view themselves as AMERICAN patriots from childhood and into adulthood.

So before the knee jerk ignorants start proclaiming the injustice of the lack of birthright citizenship, or that AMERICAN Samoans are foreigners who shouldn’t get a special path to citizenship, let us share and educate those who don’t know much or anything at all about America’s most remote possession.

1) AMERICAN Samoans are proud to be AMERICAN. So proud that this tiny territory of 55K souls contributes more volunteers to the United States armed forces per capita than ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE USA. There isn’t a family in American Samoa that hasn’t been touched by tragedy through the loss of a serving US service member in combat. There isn’t a generation of any family in the territory that in the last 100 years hasn’t lost loved ones in battle while wearing the uniform of the United States, from World War I and II, to Korea and Vietnam, and the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. Do not question an AMERICAN Samoan’s AMERICAN-ism. It is an argument you will lose badly.
2) AMERICAN Samoa was not conquered by the US. The chiefs allied with the United States and negotiated a treaty that has on the whole been highly favorable for the territory over the past century plus. The treaty protected the islands from the encroachment of Britain and Germany in the late 1800s, and it explicitly called on the US to protect the Samoan way of life.
3) Most AMERICAN Samoans are happy to be US Nationals and maintain that status as part of the deal that allows us to keep our culture, land, and government the way they are.
4) We believe that extending birthright citizenship will endanger our system of Nobility, our racial protections of our lands, and our right to choose a form of government that suits our culture. All of these things are incompatible with US citizenship and the US Constitution.

A simpler path to citizenship for US Nationals who choose to live in one of the US states or serve in the military is not asking for a lot since AMERICAN Samoans attend AMERICAN schooling, learn AMERICAN history, and study AMERICAN literature. A simpler path just recognizes that in all the ways that matter the choice for an AMERICAN Samoan to choose to become a citizen is a choice that other Americans should support and facilitate as a step up in individual responsibility and allegiance. It should be celebrated and should not be cheapened with this birthright nonsense, nor should it be denied because some don’t know the proud history of our voluntary alliance and partnership with the United States to preserve our culture, lands, and way of life.

We proudly fly the AMERICAN flag in AMERICAN Samoa and celebrate its anniversary every year, and again this year in the coming weeks. American citizens should proudly welcome and facilitate any of our Nationals who choose citizenship as natural brothers and sisters in the AMERICAN way. By far we are more AMERICAN than any of the DREAMERS, because our ancestors and people have fought, bled, and died on behalf of America for over a hundred years as part of our bargain. And America has lived up to its end of the bargain, protecting our lands, our culture, and our way of life for all these years.

So, please consider this an education and also an entreaty to support this initiative by Amata Radewagon. Our people have earned a simpler path to citizenship, purchased with our voluntary allegiance to a flag and government so different from our own native ways, but we neither want or desire to have birthright citizenship extended to our lands. Let each man and woman born in the territory make the choice for themselves, and as Amata puts it, to do so according to their situation and circumstance.

This is my opinion, but I know it will resonate with many from my home Islands.