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Feds respond to citizenship lawsuit

November 23, 2012
The Associated Press

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) - Government attorneys are asking a federal court in Washington, D.C., to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of laws denying automatic U.S. citizenship to people born in American Samoa.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Wynne Kelly told the court in a brief filed this month that the plaintiffs are attempting to sidestep Congress' power to determine the naturalization process.

One American Samoa-born plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in July says he wanted to enter law enforcement in California but couldn't because he isn't a citizen.

American Samoans have long debated the citizenship issue.

Legal experts say the entire U.S. Constitution would have to apply in the territory if people born in American Samoa received citizenship at birth. They say this would prevent certain communal land ownership rules, such as favoring those with Samoan blood.



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