Bills introduced into Congress often begin with a set of “findings” that explain the reason for the law. HR 6246, the Puerto Rico Admissions Act, is no exception.
Here are the 15 reasons the bill gives for Puerto Rico statehood:
- Puerto Rico was given to the United States by Spain in the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish-American War in 1898. In that Treaty, Article IX says that the “political status and civil rights of the inhabitants shall be determined by Congress.” It is the responsibility of Congress to settle Puerto Rico’s political status.
- Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States. Congress made this happen in 1917.
- In the Insular Cases, the Supreme Court determined that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t apply equally to Puerto Rico.
- Congress approved Puerto Rico’s Constitution in 1952. Historically, this has been a step toward statehood for territories of the Unites States.
- While the constitution as approved was like a state constitution, Congress made it clear that they were keeping plenary power over Puerto Rico as described in the Territorial Clause.
- The policies of Congress have disenfranchised the people of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico can’t vote for president or vice president, has no senators, and has just one non-voting congressional representative.
- U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico are not treated equally with those living in the 50 states. There are at least 40 federal laws which treat Puerto Rico’s residents unequally.
- These inequalities have contributed to an economic crisis in Puerto Rico which has led to large numbers of people from Puerto Rico leaving the Island.
- After 120 years, Puerto Rico is the largest, the oldest, and the most populous colony in the world. Congress has failed to respond to Puerto Rico’s demands for equality and for statehood.
- The United States has allowed all previous territories to become states.
- In 2012, the voters of Puerto Rico rejected the current territorial status and chose statehood from the viable options for political status.
- In 2017, voters again chose statehood from the viable options.
- Puerto Ricans have served the United States faithfully in war and in peace. More than 250,000 have served in the U.S. military. Puerto Rico has earned the right to be heard.
- Last year was the 100th anniversary of Puerto Rico’s U.S. citizenship. Yet Puerto Rico continues to experience second class citizenship.
- Equality within the nation is essential for Puerto Rico’s economic and social well-being, and for the health of the American economy.
Clearly, it is time for Puerto Rico to be admitted into the Union.