Civil Rights Organizations Call for Equal Rights to Those Living in U.S. Territories in Amicus Brief

March 3, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) along with the Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the National Asian Pacific Bar Association filed a brief in support of the petition for a Writ of Certiorari requesting the U.S. Supreme Court review the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit's decision in Leneuotifiafia Tuaua, et al., v. United States of America, et al.

LULAC is supporting the petitioner's request that the Supreme Court resolve the question of whether the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment should extend to persons born in the territory of the American Samoa. The court applied a discriminatory rationale that was based on race and culture to deny birthright citizenship to the people of American Samoa. The same discriminatory rationale has been used to deny foundational rights to the 3.5 million U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico. LULAC and its members have an interest in this case because of the potential impact for racial equality in general and for the people of Puerto Rico in particular.

"A considerable portion of the LULAC membership are U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico who have been hard working loyal Americans, but have not been treated equally by our federal government," said LULAC National President Roger C. Rocha Jr. "They have been denied many constitutional rights afforded to other U.S. citizens who live on the mainland. We hope that the Supreme Court will agree to review this case and grant the people of Puerto Rico all rights and benefits under the U.S. Constitution."

The discriminatory rationale underlying in the Court of Appeals decision allows for the continued treatment of individuals living in the territories as second class citizens. "Such outdated and thoroughly discredited views cannot be allowed to prevail," said LULAC National Executive Director Brent Wilkes. "We are confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will reject such discriminatory rationale just as it long ago rejected the rationale in Plessy v. Ferguson. We are grateful to have Paul Smith from Jenner & Block leading this legal fight. His commitment and experience to this issue ensures that the most compelling case will be brought in front of the Supreme Court.”

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.LULAC.org.

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