One of the questions we often get is, “When will Puerto Rico become a state?” Good question.
Puerto Rico has met the qualifications for statehood: there is an organized government, a constitution approved by Congress, and enough people to make a populated state of the Union. Puerto Rico has already voted in favor of statehood, both in 2012 and in 2017, so what’s the deal?
First, there have been strong opponents of statehood in the leadership on the Island. Whether they believe the myth of commonwealth or have just been benefiting personally from Puerto Rico’s territorial status, they were strong enough to stir up controversy over the vote. A new vote took place on June 11, 2017, and 97% of voters chose statehood among the three options on the ballot.
The “commonwealth” and independence parties both called for a boycott of the vote, rather than trying to win outright, and are now trying to discredit the 2017 vote as they did the 2012 vote.
The “commonwealth” party has seen some changes now, as people across the Island recognize that the idea of “enhanced commonwealth” was never a real possibility. It is becoming clear that independence (with or without free association) and statehood are the only real choices.
Recent presidents from both major U.S. political parties have spoken up for statehood for Puerto Rico. Both parties express support for Puerto Rico’s choice of status in their current political platforms. Since Puerto Rican voters once again chose statehood rather than independence, there is no reason to think that the U.S. government will not welcome Puerto Rico as the 51st state.
The ball is in Congress’s court.
If you live in one of the states, make sure that your friends and family on the Island understand the benefits of statehood. And make sure that you communicate with your representatives in Washington.