Pennsylvania’s congresspeople have stepped up for Puerto Rico: the four we see here, plus Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, the most recent to add his name as a cosponsor of HR 1522, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admissions Bill.
Statehood for Puerto Rico would provide equality and sovereignty for the 3.2 million U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico and remove the shame of the 123-year colonial relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.
Since Puerto Rico has only a small voice in U.S. democracy, the Island has to rely on the legislators of the states to take action in Congress. Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon cannot vote for the bill. She needs the help of the members who represent states and therefore can vote.
Pennsylvania members and Puerto Rico
All these representative have a strong history with Puerto Rico. Brian Fitzpatrick visited Puerto Rico three years running after the 2017 hurricanes to see for himself how the rebuilding was progressing. He has spoken out for Puerto Rico many times in Congress and has cosponsored statehood ills before.
Rep. Brendan Boyle has done the same. He too has visited Puerto Rico and spoken up for disaster relief.
Rep. Dwight Evans has a strong history in civil rights, and he is currently cosponsoring both HR 1522 and HR 2070. If he is your representative, it is especially important to explain the difference between these two bills.
Rep. Madeleine Dean has also supported disaster relief for Puerto Rico
Pennsylvania’s long history of supporting Democracy might be enough to cause representatives to cosponsor the statehood bill.
Puerto Ricans in Pennsylvania
Puerto Ricans have a long history in Pennsylvania, though, which could make this issue seem more personal.
If you list the states in order by the number of Puerto Ricans living in each state, Pennsylvania is #4. Puerto Ricans make up more than half the Latino population in the state.
Puerto Ricans came to Pennsylvania in small numbers in the 1800s and early 1900s. During World War I, workers from Puerto Rico filled labor shortages in cigar factories and on farms. After World War II, government agencies encouraged Puerto Ricans to move to Pennsylvania. Many worked up through different kinds of manufacturing jobs, developed their own businesses, and settled into neighborhoods in cities and suburbs across the state.
Puerto Rico Day celebrations and community organizations supporting arts and education developed in the larger cities, and Philadelphia was the second largest city in the United States, just after New York City, in Puerto Rican population. More newcomers arrived after Hurricane Maria.
Do you live in Pennsylvania? If so, please thank your reps for supporting Puerto Rico Statehood — or encourage them to get on the right side of history and support statehood now.