American Samoan residents are now suing for the right of American citizenship at birth, according to the Associated Press on Tuesday.
Residents of the U.S. territory aren’t given citizenship at birth, but are considered U.S. nationals. That means that the residents are not permitted to vote, sponsor relatives immigrating to the United States, or run for public office. They do pay taxes.
The lawsuit was filed by American Samoan residents living in Utah. They filed for this right to citizenship under the 14th Amendment. It grants American citizenship at birth to anyone born in the country.
John Fitisemanu is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. He said that he has “been discouraged from applying for certain federal and state jobs that list U.S. citizenship as an eligibility requirement, diminishing his employment opportunities.”
The residents of Samoa who are suing also claim that they face restrictions overseas that don’t apply to citizens of the United States, and they often have to obtain special permits or pay additional fees.
Residents of this South Pacific territory are able to obtain naturalized citizenship, but it is a “lengthy, costly, and burdensome” process, according to the lawsuit.
There are approximately 55,000 people who live on the seven islands that make up the Samoan territory. The islands became a U.S. territory in 1900.