We see this suggestion sometimes: “Don’t ask for statehood for Puerto Rico. If you’re Puerto Rican, you can get statehood by getting on a plane and moving to a state.”
That’s true. Far more people of Puerto Rican heritage now live in states than in Puerto Rico. They have voted for statehood with their feet.
Is this actually a solution for the problems Puerto Rico faces? Ask yourself these questions before you decide.
Does this solve the human rights issues?
Those who can move to a state will gain equal rights of U.S. citizenship. They will be able to vote for their president and file for the Earned Income Tax Credit and ask their senators to support their wishes in Congress.
Does that solve the problem for the residents of Puerto Rico? They face greater poverty, fewer job opportunities, less of a voice in political discourse, and more problems in their infrastructure than people living in any state. Is that acceptable?
Marie Antoinette, when she heard that the peasants of her country had no bread to eat, said, “Then, let them eat cake!” Those who are happy to leave Puerto Rico in dire straits are doing the same.
Should residents of Puerto Rico suffer for you?
Often this idea that people from Puerto Rico should move to a state if they want statehood comes along with a romantic idea about Puerto Rican culture. People living in states want Puerto Rico to remain quaint and uncomfortable. Like Marie Antoinette and her little farm where she could pretend to be a shepherdess, they seem to want Puerto Rico to do without stable electricity and safe drinking water.
Sometimes they support independence for Puerto Rico. They don’t plan to go through the discomfort and deprivation that would involve, and they are not concerned that the voters of Puerto Rico always vote against independence.
They like the idea of living comfortably in a state and leaving someone “back home” to represent the culture.
We don’t want a solution for one person. We want a solution for Puerto Rico. We want equality for Puerto Rico. We want statehood for Puerto Rico.