US appeals court in Denver eyes American Samoa citizenship

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FILE – This July 2002 file photo shows a sailing ship in the harbor at Pago Pago, American Samoa. Many residents of American Samoa are concerned that a federal judge’s recent ruling in Utah, saying those born in the U.S. territory should be recognized as U.S. citizens, could threaten “fa’a Samoa,” the Samoan way of life, which includes cultural traditions like prayer curfews, communal living and a belief that the islands’ lands should stay in Samoan hands. (AP Photo/David Briscoe, File)

DENVER (AP) — A U.S. appeals court in Denver is weighing whether residents of American Samoa should automatically be granted citizenship.

Three judges from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on Wednesday challenging a Utah judge’s ruling that people born in the U.S. territory are citizens.

Much of the online hearing focused on whether people who live in territories controlled by the United States automatically become citizens even if they do not want to be under the 14th Amendment.

American Samoa is the only U.S. territory where residents have no birthright claim to citizenship.

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