Statehood: Miracle of Miracles?

Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona said that statehood for Puerto Rico would be a “miracle of miracles,” according to local paper Noticias. Grijalva, the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, visited San Juan to check on progress toward rebuilding the Island, and to discuss the PROMESA oversight board.

Grijalva proposed some changes to the board. For one thing, he would like the federal government to take over its funding. Currently, Puerto Rico must pay for the board.

Grijalva also spoke of putting a commissioner in place to oversee Puerto Rico’s rebuilding, and of an audit of Puerto Rico’s debt.

Thomas Rivera Schatz, president of Puerto Rico’s Senate, asked Grijalva to repeal PROMESA, the Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act. He also brought up the Farm Bill which made cockfighting illegal in Puerto Rico.

Rep. Grijalva said after his last visit to Puerto Rico that he could see the majority of Puerto Ricans favor statehood. During Gov. Rossello’s chat scandal, Grijalva suggested that statehood could be a “cure” for the government’s problems. “Now you’re going to be under the same regulatory oversight that states are,” he said.

Grijalva cosponsored the Puerto Rico Admission Process Act in 2015, but since stepping into the leadership of the Natural Resources Committee, has delayed consideration of Puerto Rico’s status. He has confirmed that he intends to have a conversation on the subject, but also has said more than once that he believes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be an obstacle to an admission bill for Puerto Rico this term.

Grijalva also discussed environmental issues with Governor Vazquez Garced and other leaders.

It is good that Grijalva recognizes that Puerto Rico is ready for statehood, and we hope that he helps Congress get ready, too.

One Comment

Howard Hills

The miracle already happened in Philadelphia back in 1787. The more perfect union created under the Constitution is based on the principle that just government exists only by consent of the governed, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

Article I and Article II of the Constitution purposely and necessarily limit government by consent to U.S. citizens who are citizens of a state. Only citizens of a state can vote in federal elections for full and equal representation in Congress and the Electoral College.

This is not an accident or mistake. The allocation of political power to the states based on equal representation for each state combined with population based representation is intended to prevent a bloc of states from controlling a fixed and permanent political order. Instead, large, medium and small states can participate in constantly changing and realigning alliances on multiple issues of national and regional importance.

The more perfect union created under the Constitution is a federation of states with equal sovereignty and equal power of consent. Without state sovereignty under the 10th Amendment and limitation of voting rights to citizens in a state the union would break up within a decade. The more perfect union under the Constitution is not a federation of states and territories, or a confederation of people with U.S. national citizenship who elect leaders and make national laws based on national majority vote.

The miracle is that the only way for U.S. citizens to have equal rights of national citizenship is to have state citizenship. That is why the U.S. Congress should not have embraced the political outcome allowed by the Supreme Court ruling in the 1922 case of Balzac v. Puerto Rico, in which the court ruled that Congress can govern citizens in Puerto Rico the same way it governed non-citizens in Puerto Rico before Congress granted birthright U.S. citizenship in 1917.

Congress should have rejected that legal ruling as politically and even constitutionally unsustainable. American citizens in Puerto Rico should have been treated like the peoples of all U.S citizen populated territories had been treated from 1787 to 1922.

Americans in Puerto Rico should have had the status citizens had under the Northwest Ordinance and all federal court rulings interpreting the Constitution as it applied to U.S. citizens in the territories before the 1922 Balzac ruling. Instead Congress relied on Balzac in granting statutory citizenship in territories classified by the court as unincorporated, even though the U.S. Supreme Court cases inventing the status of unincorporated territory applied only to territories with non-citizen populations.

The miracle is that the solution for Puerto Rico is in the hands of Congress. A simple majority in both Houses is all it takes for the miracle of Philadelphia to become reality in Puerto Rico as it has for 32 territories that became states. Puerto Rico is more ready for statehood and integrated into the nation than any of the 32 territories that became states.

Statehood for Puerto Rico is part of the miracle of America. What is not American is denial of statehood to a U.S. citizen population that is ready for it, and needs equal rights to prosper and compete and develop under the statehood model of equal footing with Americans in the states.

Unless the people of PR vote to rescind approval of statehood in 2012, or a majority do not vote for statehood in a future vote, then statehood for PR is inevitable. What more proof of this is needed than the collapse of the “commonwealth” regime of territorial government? This who thought “autonomy” was the best of both worlds, better than equality, are now living the reality of the worst of both worlds, denied sovereignty and democracy that come with nationhood, and denied prosperity and freedom and equality of rights and opportunity that come only with statehood.

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