Eight natives of American Samoa filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in an attempt to win U.S. citizenship rights, which despite the name of the South Pacific territory, they do not receive at birth.
The lawsuit asks a federal court in Washington to declare that American Samoans are citizens of the United States, a status that would make them eligible for full U.S. passports and rights such as the right to vote while residing in a state.
American Samoa is unique as the only U.S. territory where those born there are not automatically U.S. citizens, the lawsuit said.
In the past century, Congress granted citizenship to the inhabitants of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, but not for American Samoa, an archipelago in the Pacific that the United States first claimed in 1900.
It doesn’t seem fair. But then, America is an empire, and empire’s rules are often entirely arbitrary.