HR 1522 Cosponsors: The U.S. Territories

U.S. territories

H.R. 1522 is the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Bill for 2021. As of this writing, it has 57 cosponsors. This includes cosponsors from four of the five U.S. territories. While Puerto Rico is the only current territory which has asked for statehood, the other U.S. territories are aware of the disadvantages of being a territory.

The first of the original cosponsors of the bill is Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States in 1898 by Spain, which held the Island as a colony for 400 years. In 1917,  the United States granted U.S. citizenship to the people of Puerto Rico.

Congress approved Puerto Rico’s constitution in 1952, and the Island took on the name of “Commonwealth of Puerto Rico,” but Congress announced that this made no change in the political status of Puerto Rico, nor in Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States. This point has been made repeatedly in the years since then, by Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Supreme Court.

In November 2020, Puerto Rico voted for statehood for the third time, and H.R. 1522 is the new bill calling for statehood for the territory.

American Samoa

Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, delegate for American Samoa, is also a cosponsor of H.R. 1522.

American Samoa became a U.S. territory in 1900. The leaders of the islands gradually ceded their territory to the United States, and the documents were accepted by the U.S. in 1929.

American Samoans are not citizens of the United States as residents of the other territories are. Instead, they are U.S. nationals. 

American Samoa adopted a constitution in 1967 and elected their own governor in 1977. They gained a delegate to Congress in 1981. They control their own borders and immigration requirements, but cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections.

Guam

Michael F. Q. San Nicolas, the delegate for Guam, is cosponsoring H.R. 1522. Guam was claimed by Spain in 1565, and ceded to the United States along with Puerto Rico in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. Guam was officially made an unincorporated territory of the United States in 1950 and citizenship was granted in 1952.

Over the years, Guam has had many discussions about its political status, but has never requested statehood.

U.S. Virgin Islands

Stacey Plaskett, the delegate to Congress from the U.S.Virgin Islands, is also a cosponsor of H.R. 1522. While Plaskett, like the other territorial delegates, does not get a deciding vote Congress, she is a member of the Ways & Means Committee, the oldest Committee in the House.

The United States bought the U.S. Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917, and they officially became a territory of the United States in 1927. They have never asked for statehood, but Rep. Plaskett recently made the following statement:

I have sent a letter to Senator Myron Jackson of the Virgin Islands Legislature and Arturo Watlington and Barbara McIntosh of the Board of Elections regarding my full support for the right of our people to self-determination. I want to applaud Puerto Rico in moving forward in taking the next steps for statehood. I believe it is appropriate for the Virgin Islands to move forward to a more mature relationship with the United States and I have expressed my support and desire to support our legislature and Board of Election to begin our process.

I believe that the will of Virgin Islands residents, however, is paramount in ordering our next steps. I think it is time for a renewed discourse on whether the people of the Virgin Islands are satisfied with the political status of the territory – thus the reason for my letter.

We appreciate all the representatives of the territories, and their support for Puerto Rico statehood.

If you see your representative on this list, please thank them for supporting Puerto Rico statehood.

We hope you will also contact your own legislators and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 1522.

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