When a new bill is introduced in Congress, it usually includes a section called “Findings.” These are the facts that support the bill.
HR 1522, The Puerto Rico Statehood Admissions Bill, includes 20 points in its Findings section. These are the 20 reasons the authors support statehood:
(1) United States national sovereignty in Puerto Rico was established by the Treaty of Paris between the United States and the Kingdom of Spain (30 Stat. 1754), signed on December 10, 1898.
This point reminds the readers that Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, and has been since 1898.
(2) Puerto Rico is governed by the United States under laws enacted by Congress in the exercise of its power to make rules and regulations governing territory belonging to the United States, pursuant to article IV, section 3, clause 2 of the Constitution.
The Territory Clause clearly states that Congress makes the decisions for Puerto Rico.
(3) [T]he United States Supreme Court that established the “separate but equal” doctrine in Plessy v. Ferguson determined in the 1901 Downes v. Bidwell decision that Puerto Rico was an unincorporated territory of the United States, a status of possession that continues today.
Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory belonging to the United States.
(4) Congress granted statutory United States citizenship to the residents of Puerto Rico. Such action has historically led to incorporation and eventual statehood but was denied to Puerto Rico… even as fellow Americans in Hawaii and Alaska attained statehood.
Having made the point that Puerto Rico belongs to the United States, the authors point out that Puerto Rico has not followed the typical path to statehood.
(5) Puerto Rico has a territorial constitution that is republican in form and compatible with the United States Constitution…
One of the requirements for statehood is that the territory must have a constitution which is compatible with the U.S. Constitution. Congress has already approved Puerto Rico’s constitution.
(6) Thirty-two territories previously have petitioned Congress for statehood based on democratically expressed consent of the governed, and each was duly admitted as a State of the Union.
32 territories have already become states. Puerto Rico is a territory just as they were.
(7) Puerto Ricans have contributed greatly to the nation and its culture and distinguished themselves in every field of endeavor. However, the denial of equal voting representation and equal treatment by the Federal Government stands in stark contrast to their contributions.
Puerto Ricans have contributed to the United States in the arts and sciences, sports, business, politics, and in ever other field.
(8) Since becoming a United States territory, more than 235,000 American citizens of Puerto Rican heritage have served in the United States military.
In particular, Puerto Rico has a proud tradition of military service.
(9) Thousands of United States military service members of Puerto Rican heritage have received numerous medals, distinctions, and commendations of every degree, including for valorous military service in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Not only have Puerto Rican men and women served in large numbers in the military, they have served with distinction.
(10) Nine United States military service members from Puerto Rico have been awarded the Medal of Honor, and many have been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross or the Navy Cross.
The patriotic service of men and women from Puerto Rico is evidenced by the honors they have won.
(11) The 65th Infantry Regiment in Puerto Rico (known as the “Borinqueneers”) was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal (Public Law 113–120) for its contributions and sacrifices in the armed conflicts of the United States, including World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.
The Borinqueneers, a Puerto Rican military unit in the U.S. Army, received the Congressional Gold Medal.
(12) To further recognize and pay tribute to the bravery of the Puerto Rican soldiers of the 65th Infantry Regiment, Congress expressed support for the designation of April 13 as National Borinqueneers Day in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Public Law 116–283).
The authors, having made the point that Puerto Rico defends the United States, give further evidence that Congress has previously acknowledged this fact.
(13) Unincorporated territory status means that Federal laws can be applied to Puerto Rico and its American citizens differently, on unequal and, at times inequitable terms… This has limited the development of Puerto Rico and hindered its economy.
With a level playing field, Puerto Rico would — like the 32 territories that have already become states — grow and prosper.
(14) Unincorporated territory status has resulted in millions of residents leaving Puerto Rico to secure equal rights of citizenship attainable only in a State.
More than 5 million Puerto Ricans live in the states. This exodus has harmed Puerto Rico economically.
(15) Other than its unincorporated territory status and its unequal treatment under some Federal laws, Puerto Rico is socially, economically, politically, and legally integrated into the nation.
The other 32 territories which have already become states were less integrated into the United States than Puerto Rico now is. They also in many cases had less evidence of support for statehood.
(16) In November 2012, a majority of voters rejected continuation of the current territory status, and 61.2 percent of those expressing a choice on status alternatives chose statehood.
54% of voters rejected the current status and more than 61% chose statehood from the viable alternative status options.
(17) In June 2017, a vote was held to confirm the aspirations of the people of Puerto Rico. As advised by the United States Department of Justice, all available status options were included in the ballot. Amid an opposition boycott, statehood received 97 percent of the votes casted, while independence and the current status received less than 3 percent of the vote.
The 2017 vote showed an overwhelming majority for statehood. Opposition parties boycotted the vote; nobody boycotts a vote they can win.
(18) In November 2020, following Alaska and Hawaii precedent, Puerto Rico voters were presented with the question: “Should Puerto Rico be admitted immediately into the Union as a State? Yes or No”. A clear majority of 52.52 percent voted in the affirmative.
The results of the 2020 plebiscite confirmed that Puerto Rico wants statehood.
(19) In December 2020, the Puerto Rico legislature, following the absolute majority victory obtained by statehood in the plebiscite, approved a Joint Resolution petitioning, on behalf of the People of Puerto Rico, that Congress and the President of the United States admit Puerto Rico into the Union as a State and appointed official representatives to manage the transition to statehood.
The elected government of Puerto Rico has officially requested statehood.
(20) No large and populous United States territory inhabited by American citizens that has petitioned for statehood has been denied admission into the Union.
The United States has never rejected a territory that has gone through the process of requesting statehood as Puerto Rico has.
Together, these Findings present a strong argument for statehood for Puerto Rico.