Am. Samoa Congressman: Proposal Won’t Impact Citizenship Lawsuit

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Faleomavaega asks government to put issue on ballot

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, July 28, 2012) – Congressman Faleomavaega Eni’s proposal to ask the Fono and the Togiola Administration to develop appropriate legislation to have the issue of US citizenship placed on the November general election, will not impact the citizenship lawsuit now pending in the federal court in Washington DC, says Charles Alailima, the local attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of federal laws that deny automatic US citizenship to persons born in American Samoa.

"We’ve been pleased with the support [this case] has received from American Samoans, both living in American Samoa and throughout the rest of the United States. Our legal challenge is only asking whether Congress can deny citizenship to people born in American Samoa," said Alailima responding to media inquiries. "That question is answered by the Citizenship Clause of the US Constitution as the court interprets it, not by a vote."

"We only ask the court to determine if people born in American Samoan are US citizens. Our legal challenge does not address or answer anything about American Samoa’s future political status. That future political status is for the people of American Samoa to decide," he added.

Faleomavaega announced Thursday that he will be preparing appropriate communication to propose that the Togiola Administration and Fono develop legislation to authorize two important issues that should be presented before the voters of American Samoa on this year’s November general election ballot. One question to be asked is if persons born in American Samoa should automatically be US citizens.

Gov. Togiola Tulafono publicly accused attorneys for pushing this issue, saying on his weekend radio program, that the plaintiffs should have first sought the opinion of the rest of the people of American Samoa. He called the lawsuit, in Samoan, "fa’alealofa" or action without love for the rest of the people of the territory.

Meanwhile, US District Court Judge Richard Leon, who is presiding over this case, issued a six-page order last week setting procedures for all parties and their attorneys to follow as this case moves forward. Among the procedures are that attorneys are to follow Federal Rules of Civil Proceedings; file motions in timely manners; and procedures for filing pleadings.

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