New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 2016 saw the highest level of migration from Puerto Rico to the States in the past 12 years. 88,000 people moved from the Island to the States.
This is also the highest level of net migration. About 21,000 people went from a State to Puerto Rico. Since about 88,000 people traveled in the opposite direction, the net migration for 2016 was -67,000 people. Puerto Rico lost about 67,000 people in total.
The Puerto Rico Statistics Institute confirmed that these are the worst numbers for Puerto Rico’s population since 2005. Alberto L. Velázquez-Estrada, manager of the Statistical Projects of the Institute, told El Nuevo Dia that these figures simply show a continuing trend. Tens of thousands of people have been leaving the territory for more than a decade, and the population continues to grow smaller. Velázquez-Estrada broke it down, saying that the territory has lost an average of 44,000 people (net migration) each year since 2005.
This is not a simple average with ups and downs, however. The number of people leaving Puerto Rico has increased steadily. There are reports that relocation to the States is speeding up even more since Hurricane Maria.
The residents of Puerto Rico are choosing to live in a state. They might prefer to live in the state of Puerto Rico, to help rebuild the economy and to be part of the renaissance that other territories have seen when they became states — a rebirth we can expect to the see in the state of Puerto Rico, too.
Without that option, they are choosing to live in Florida or North Carolina or New York or Texas instead.
The people leaving Puerto Rico will be supporting their new states with their talents and skills, their training and their work. The territory of Puerto Rico is losing people every day, and Puerto Rico’s wealth is in her people.
Puerto Rico’s loss is the States’ gain. But Puerto Rico has already voted for statehood. The people of Florida have the chance to live in their state and grow along with it. They have the chance to rebuild after Hurricane Irma and to be part of economic growth in Florida. The same is true of Texans, who are rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey. In Puerto Rico, survivors of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria must be wondering… if they work to rebuild Puerto Rico, will it be only to continue in the untenable position of an unincorporated territory?
Statehood must not be delayed.
Puerto Rico voted for statehood. The continual stream of people leaving the Island for States makes it clear that the residents are choosing statehood every day, not just on the day of the plebiscite.
We must demand action from Congress. Use the Sound Off app on this page, or send a tweet or an email. Tell your representatives that it is time for statehood for Puerto Rico.
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