The new Puerto Rico Statehood bill, H.R. 1522, currently has 57 cosponsors, both Democratic and Republican. They represent 21 states and territories. Some states currently have just one member of the delegation on the right side of history so far, but one has 16 — all the people you see above, including Rep. Al Lawson, below, who just signed on. This is the first time Mr. Lawson has cosponsored a bill for Puerto Rico statehood.
Who are the cosponsors?
- Rep. Murphy, Stephanie N. [D-FL-7]*
- Rep. Diaz-Balart, Mario [R-FL-25]*
- Rep. Bilirakis, Gus M. [R-FL-12]*
- Rep. Castor, Kathy [D-FL-14]*
- Rep. Crist, Charlie [D-FL-13]*
- Rep. Demings, Val Butler [D-FL-10]*
- Rep. Deutch, Theodore E. [D-FL-22]*
- Rep. Frankel, Lois [D-FL-21]*
- Rep. Gimenez, Carlos A. [R-FL-26]*
- Rep. Hastings, Alcee L. [D-FL-20]*
- Rep. Posey, Bill [R-FL-8]*
- Rep. Salazar, Maria Elvira [R-FL-27]*
- Rep. Waltz, Michael [R-FL-6]*
- Rep. Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [D-FL-23]*
- Rep. Wilson, Frederica S. [D-FL-24]*
- Rep. Lawson, Al, Jr. [D-FL-5]
Why is Florida supporting Puerto Rico Statehood?
Since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, Florida’s Puerto Rican community has grown. Florida now has more residents of Puerto Rican heritage than any other state.
Some of the cosponsors from Florida are of Puerto Rican heritage or have lived in Puerto Rico or have another personal connection.
Darren Soto, for example, was born in New Jersey, but his father was born in PuertoRico. “Our brothers and sisters back on the island have decided that their territorial status and second-class citizenship isn’t working,” he said in the H.R. 1522 press conference.
Local leader Frances Colon told WLRN that “The Florida diaspora is very connected to what’s happening in Puerto Rico – the economic crisis hardship and the stark way our second-class citizenship has been displayed since the hurricane – so most Florida Puerto Ricans feel statehood is a solution.”
On the other hand, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who was born in Vietnam, has been a longtime champion of Puerto Rico Statehood both because she has many Puerto Rican constituents and because of her own dedication to human rights. Many cosponsors support statehood because it is the right thing to do, whether or not they have a personal connection.
Puerto Rico statehood is not just about Puerto Rico
Polls have repeatedly shown that most Americans living in the states, like most Americans living in Puerto Rico, favor statehood for Puerto Rico.
Americans generally favor equality and do not like the idea that their country holds a colony. While many Americans have a romantic attachment to the idea of independence, associating it with the freedom of the early colonies from despotic rule by a European king, those who understand Puerto Rico’s position are more likely to welcome Puerto Rico as a state.
The delegation from Florida, having more contact with people from Puerto Rico, naturally is more likely to support statehood.
The rest of the delegation
Still, 16 of the 27 Members of the House from Florida are cosponsors. That means that there are 11 more reps from Florida who need to be reminded that they should get on the right side of history.
Do you live in Florida? Find your rep (link goes to a different site) and see whether he or she is cosponsoring H.R. 1522. The list of cosponsors is above, earlier in the post.
If your rep is on that list, please thank them!
If not, please reach out to them and explain why it is so important to support statehood for Puerto Rico.
Do you know someone who lives in Florida? Of course you do! Ask them to do the same: thank their rep for supporting H.R. 1522 or ask them to do so.