We appreciate the Members of Congress from New Jersey who have chosen to cosponsor HR 1522, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admissions bill.
Who gets to decide whether Puerto Rico becomes a state? Under the Constitution, Congress gets to make new states. Puerto Rico has one member of Congress, the Resident Commissioner, but she cannot even vote on whether Puerto Rico should become a state. SO Puerto Rico must rely on the people who represent states in Congress.
Americans from every state should support statehood for Puerto Rico.After 123 years as a possession of the United States without the rights and responsibilities of statehood, the United States should be eager to right the wrongs done to Puerto Rico. We should all be excited to cast off the shameful legacy of colonialism and bring equal rights to fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.
Still, the representatives of New Jersey have a special connection with Puerto Rico: one million Puerto Ricans live in the state.
How’re they doing?
Compared with stateside Puerto Ricans in general and with Puerto Ricans living on the Island, Puerto Ricans in New Jersey are doing well. They are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to be unemployed. They have higher incomes and homes of higher value.
A report from 1955 points out that Puerto Ricans lived in New Jersey before they became citizens in 1917, but also makes clear that the Puerto Rico Department of Labor was an important part of Puerto Rican settlement in New Jersey, as in many other states. As in those other states, Puerto Ricans in New Jersey began as seasonal farm workers but settled into their new communities and moved to new kinds of jobs.
The first Puerto Rican Parade took place in Jersey City in 1961. Newark, New Jersey, followed suit in 1962. Trenton, New Jersey, added theirs in 1978. Now many cities in the state hold parades. The parades are intended to celebrate Puerto Rican culture, to empower Puerto Rican communities, and to support education.
These enduring celebrations provide evidence that those who think living in a state can crush Puerto Rico’s culture are mistaken.
If you live in a state, please reach out to your Members of Congress and ask them to support HR 1522.