This is not the opinion of one judge

Dear Editor,

With due respect Congresswoman Uifa’atali you did publicly demand I address “self-determination” and I did so in detail. I see from the reasoned responses especially the very thoughtful one from Talifaitasi Satele in Samoa News that people understand that “self-determination” is the political system American Samoans choose to be governed under and that we are under the US sovereignty and federal governance. I cited history you so casually disregard as “verbiage” because it shows that the chiefs of Tutuila and Manu’a who signed the deeds of cession of sovereignty to the US and all American Samoans who have worked over the past 121 years in developing our local self-government did so voluntarily and with the full intention of coming under and remaining within the federal system under US sovereignty.

This is not about me trying to impose my judgment on American Samoans. I am just one of the attorneys’ representing individuals before the federal courts. This case was filed just by my clients and only against the United States Government. It was you and Governor Lolo Moliga who purposely inserted the American Samoa Government into the case separate from the US Government claiming that you represent the will of the American Samoa people on this issue of my clients’ right to claim birthright US citizenship.

This is not one sole Utah judge opinion as you stated. Four federal judges have now been involved in the current citizenship case. The federal district judge in Utah found that the only question for constitutional citizenship was whether American Samoa was US sovereign soil. On appeal to a three judge panel one appeal judge strongly supported the Utah judge, the second supported “repurposing” the racist Supreme Court decisions (Insular Cases) from the early 1900s to continue justifying denial of full citizenship and the third appeal judge basically said both sides raised legitimate issues but that he did not want to rock the boat so he sided with the second judge. We are now seeking a full court review by all ten appeal judges of the circuit. The judgment on whether this is a correct interpretation of the US constitution belongs to the federal courts with the Supreme Court having the final judgment.

I have been very public about support of my clients’ citizenship claim for many years before any forum and media that was open so I do not see where you can say I am afraid about presenting my client’s position. I would be happy to testify and respond to Fono questions about this case. Unfortunately, I cannot just disrespectfully demand to appear. Fono leaders know me and I have even privately talked to some about the issues. I do not know why the Fono chose to hear only from the government’s side before making their resolution when they could have heard both sides but that was their choice.

I also cannot call for referendums, only you politicians can. So call for one if you or the Fono really believe our fa’a Samoa is threatened if the federal courts recognize my clients’ right to automatic US citizenship. Since determining if my clients are US citizens is not something we can vote on this referendum could only be about moving the territory away from US sovereignty so US citizenship is not automatic by birth. If such a referendum passes the voters and you are still in Congress then you would have the distinct honor of introducing the congressional legislation necessary to lead American Samoa to a new self-determined and independent sovereign destiny.

Charles V. Ala’ilima