We know that Puerto Rico does not have equality with the States. Puerto Rico is officially not covered by the entire U.S. Constitution, does not receive the same financial support as states, and does not have voting representatives in the U.S. Congress or votes in the presidential elections.
Clearly, Puerto Rico is not equal to the States.
Puerto Ricans who move to the United States mainland immediately have all the rights and responsibilities of their fellow Floridians, New Yorkers, Ohioans, or the residents of any state. And any Floridian, New Yorker, or Ohioan who moves to Puerto Rico immediately loses some of those rights and responsibilities. Puerto Rico, since it is a territory, does not have equality with the States.
As soon as Puerto Rico becomes a State, it will have the rights and privileges of a State, just like the other 50 States. The residents of Puerto Rico will have the same rights and responsibilities that other U.S. citizens now have when they live in States.
But can Puerto Rico be given equal rights? The governor of Puerto Rico is hoping so. He has not asked for a vote in the presidential election, but he has asked for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, like the States. He has asked for equal treatment in medical funding. He has asked for Puerto Rico to be included in the Earned Income Tax Credit program, or a program like it. He has asked to make some sections of the Jones Act not applicable to Puerto Rico, and for the ability to continue offering special tax breaks to U.S. corporations.
Right now, Puerto Rico is treated like a state in many ways, but Congress doesn’t have to treat Puerto Rico just as it does the States. If all these requests are granted, there will be no change in that fact. Puerto Rico used to have access to chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, but that right was taken away. Any special privileges given to Puerto Rico — even privileges that do nothing more than allow Puerto Rico to be treated like a State — can be taken away in the future.
Giving Puerto Rico special privileges just says, “You’re not a State.”
When Puerto Rico is a State, the Island will be entitled to all the benefits of being a State. Until that time, Puerto Rico is not entitled to anything. Congress makes the decisions.
Let Congress know how you feel about Puerto Rico’s status. Ask for Congress to help Puerto Rico in this difficult time.