Drew Wood wrote an intriguing piece in AZ Animals, asking, “Are There Any Countries That May Want to Become U.S. States?” What with so many Americans growing up playing Risk and Civilization, he says, “it’s not surprising that some Americans would wonder whether the country will ever acquire more territory and add more states, and more stars to the flag.”
We see suggestions in social media that the U.S. should invite Mexico or Cuba to be a state, and the U.S. has flirted with acquisition of some other places in the past, but no one is seriously considering annexing any other countries. Wood isn’t seriously considering that, either, although he plays with the idea of statehood for nations from Ecuador to Ukraine.
Like the rest of us, Wood sees Puerto Rico and D.C. as the “possible new states.” But he makes some interesting points about the nations which are currently in COFA (free association) relationships with the United States.
The freely associated states
Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia all are independent nations with a Compact of Free Association with the United States. Wood lumps them together with Panama under the heading “Countries using the U.S. dollar and relying on American defense.”
None of these nations want to be states of the Union. They have not asked for admission and the three free associated states all chose independence. Wood suggests that they are already “closely integrated” with the U.S. and could therefore become states more easily…but he also suggests that Ecuador and Zimbabwe are in the same position.
The consequences of adding states
Wood sees some negatives in adding states by annexing other nations..
“If the United States annexed whole countries, it would make Americans responsible for their defense, social services, and infrastructure development. The whole population of that country would become U.S. citizens, able to move freely to any of the other 50 states. Tens of millions might migrate to the mainland, creating crowded conditions in many cities,” he wrote. “Heavily populated new states would dominate U.S. politics as well. If the Philippines became a state, for example, 25% of the U.S. Congress would be elected there. These kinds of changes would make many current American citizens quite unhappy.”
Taking on other countries as new states would certainly have consequences. These issues don’t come up for Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is not a country. It is a territory of the United States. The U.S. is already responsible for their defense, social services, and infrastructure development. Millions have already migrated to the mainland from the Island, and statehood would probably slow down the flood of people leaving the Island, since the quality of life in Puerto Rico would improve. With fewer Puerto Ricans actually living in the Puerto Rico than in the states, statehood for Puerto Rico would logically not alter U.S. politics.
Adding Zimbabwe as a state is in the realm of fantasy, but admitting Puerto Rico after 126 years as a possession would be the natural culmination of the historical position. It would bring equality and justice to Puerto Rico and end an embarrassing situation for the United States. Contact your legislators today and let them know that you want to see them on the right side of history.