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Gov responds to American Samoa citizenship suit

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa >> American Samoa’s governor says a federal lawsuit seeking U.S. citizenship by virtue of birth in the territory never should have been filed without seeking input from the community.

Gov. Togiola Tulafono said during his weekly radio program that citizenship shouldn’t be forced on all of American Samoa. The lawsuit filed recently in Washington, D.C., challenges the constitutionality of federal laws that make those born in American Samoa U.S. nationals but not citizens like those born in other territories.

Using the Samoan word for action without love, the governor says only a handful of American Samoa residents want to be U.S. citizens. For those who want citizenship, they can apply to be naturalized.

Lead plaintiff Leneuoti (Lay-KNEE’-woe-two-ee) Tuaua (Two-wa-OH’-ah) says he’s disappointed with the governor’s comments.

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