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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Oct. 25) – American Samoa Congressman Faleomavaega Eni responded from Washington D.C. yesterday to Samoa News inquiries about the issue of granting "U.S. National" status to foreigners, especially those from Samoa who have lived and worked in American Samoa for more than 30 years.

Faleomavaega said he is very much aware of many of our Western Samoan citizens who have lived here for many years but they cannot become U.S. Nationals mainly because this matter is controlled by federal law.

"While the idea certainly has merits," said Faleomavaega, "the first question that Members of Congress will raise, is whether this will be another back-door procedure that will allow aliens to come to the United States. Also, I do not believe it wise to treat the entire issue of citizenship in piecemeal fashion – but that the people and the leaders of American Samoa have to come forth and agree on a comprehensive approach to the entire question of U.S. nationals and U.S. citizenship – something that for years now, our people still have not faced up to—the idea of whether we should become U.S. citizens, and continue on living with this anomaly of being U.S. nationals," the Congressman said.

"For years now I have requested that the issue of citizenship should be placed in the form of a referendum in our general election – that is, let the people decide whether we should continue our present status as U.S. nationals or request Congress to pass a law to allow people born in American Samoa to become U.S. citizens," he said.

Acting Governor Ipulasi Sunia, who hosted the governor's weekend radio program this past weekend, reiterated Governor Togiola's reply to Samoa News last week when the issue of local citizenship was raised by a caller. The issue of citizenship/national status rests with the U.S. Congress, replied Ipulasi.

When the caller asked if the congressman could introduce federal legislation to resolve the issue Ipulasi suggested the caller ask Faleomavaega during the congressman's radio program.

At least two callers during the same radio program disagreed with granting citizenship or U.S. National status to foreigners living in the territory. One caller said American Samoa already has many different ethnic races and "we need to control our borders."

Because many citizens of Samoa have lived here for most of their lifetime, there was a move in the late 1990s to allow them to vote in local elections as an incentive but it failed to muster support in the Fono, with many American Samoans objecting to such a proposal.

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