Americanish

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In 1903 the US Supreme Court refused to say that Isabel González was a citizen of the United States. Then again, they said, she wasn’t a exactly an immigrant either. And they said that the US territory of Puerto Rico, Isabel’s home, was “foreign to the United States in a domestic sense.” Since then, the US has cleared up at least some of the confusion about US territories and the status of people born in them.

But, more than a hundred years later, there is still a US territory that has been left in limbo: American Samoa. It is the only place on earth that is US soil, but people who are born there are not automatically US citizens. When we visit American Samoa, we discover that there are some pretty surprising reasons why many American Samoans prefer it that way.

This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria.

Special thanks to John Wasko.

Check out Sam Erman's book Almost Citizens and Doug Mack's book The Not Quite States of America.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

262 episodes available. A new episode about every 9 days averaging 47 mins duration .