The League of United Latin American Citizens has passed a resolution:
To call upon the 115th Congress to respond to the democratic will of the people of Puerto Rico by approving legislation on the admission of Puerto Rico as the 51st state of the United States of America.
The resolution goes on to make some strong points in favor of statehood.
WHEREAS, Puerto Rico was colonized by Spain in 1493 and became a United States territory in 1898 by the Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish-American War making Puerto Rico the oldest colony of the world and the longest held territory in the history of the United States.
Territories of the United States have generally been understood to be on a path to statehood. While the Insular Cases ended up with the Supreme Court deciding that certain territories, including Puerto Rico, could remain territories essentially forever, this has never been a good idea.
WHEREAS, the persons born on the island are U.S. citizens by federal law since 1917 and carry an American passport.
People born in Puerto Rico can move to one of the 50 states and immediately gain all the rights and responsibilities of citizens who live in states. The opposite is also true: someone born in Chicago will, upon moving to the territory of Puerto Rico, no longer have a vote in U.S. presidential elections.
WHEREAS, the insular government of the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico exercises authority similar to that of the governments of the 50 states, is subject to federal law, and the island residents pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, but receive less benefits than U.S. states.
This is the “like a state” part of Puerto Rico’s status. Being like a state is not the same as being a state, and it certainly doesn’t give residents “the best of both worlds.”
WHEREAS, despite the abovementioned, U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico are not treated equally under federal law as fellow American citizens, and do not have full representation in their national government, since they cannot vote for the President while residing in the island. Nor do they elect Senators or Representatives to the U.S. Congress, having only a sole Resident Commissioner, who can only vote in committees of the House of Representatives to which he or she is assigned
This is the centerpiece of the human rights issue for Puerto Rico. Without full representation in the federal government, Puerto Rico will never have equal rights as U.S. citizens.
LULAC’s resolution continued to describe the human rights issues involved, and then pointed out that the Island has democratically chosen statehood:
WHEREAS, Puerto Rico held a public election on the question of statehood in 2012, wherein 54% of voters rejected the current territorial status, and 61% of those voters chose statehood over the other options of independence, and nationhood in free association with the United States.
WHEREAS, the 2016 Democratic Party Platform declares that “Democrats believe that the people of Puerto Rico should determine their ultimate political status from permanent options that do not conflict with the Constitution, laws and policies of the United States” and that “Puerto Ricans should be able to vote for the people who make their laws, just as they should be treated equally…”.
WHEREAS, the 2016 Republican Party Platform states that “We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state… Once the 2012 local vote for statehood is ratified, Congress should approve an enabling act with terms for Puerto Rico’s future admission as the 51st state of the Union…”
WHEREAS, on June 11, 2017, Puerto Rico held a status plebiscite to reaffirm and ratify the people’s will previously expressed in the 2012 plebiscite in favor of statehood.
WHEREAS, the results of said plebiscite, as certified by the Puerto Rico Elections Commission, reflect a 97.18% support for statehood, 1.50% support for independence and free association; and 1.32% for the current territorial status.
WHEREAS, given the aforementioned, it is obviously clear that an overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico want to replace the current territorial status with the permanent form of government that can be had as a state of the Union, which provides for equality and democratic representation in their national government.
The resolution continues, laying out the economic and political consequences of Puerto Rico’s territorial status, and finishes up as follows:
WHEREAS, it is morally and legally wrong for the United States of America, the democratic leader of the world, to maintain in the 21st Century over 3.4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico deprived of their full-fledged U.S. citizen rights when they have voted against remaining a territory and repeatedly through the ballot box endorsed becoming a state of the Union.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the League of United Latin American Citizens hereby calls upon the 115th Congress to respond to the democratic will of the people of Puerto Rico by approving legislation on the admission of Puerto Rico as the 51st state of the United States of America;
The remainder of the resolution lists the people to whom the resolution has been sent.
LULAC, the largest and oldest organization in the U.S. that supports the civil and human rights of Hispanic Americans, has a long history of supporting Puerto Rico’s work toward statehood. For a decade, they have been specifically supporting a change in Puerto Rico’s status.