March 21, 2022


Statement on the Passing of Congressman Don Young

Washington, D.C. – George Laws García, the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Statehood Council, released the following statement on the passing of Congressman Don Young:

“We mourn the passing of the Dean of the House of Representatives, Congressman Don Young, who will always hold a special place in the hearts of the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico because of his opposition to territorial colonialism and his support for the choice of the majority of Puerto Rico’s voters for statehood.” 

“Hailing from Alaska, the second to the last territory to achieve statehood, he understood that unincorporated territories like Puerto Rico were diverted from the path to full self-government by the judicial edict of the Insular Cases, and that Congress has so far failed to correct this mistake and defend our national values. He was keenly aware of the inequality and democratic deficit faced by America’s territories, and he put his beliefs into action. During his decades in office, Young did everything within his power to enable voters in Puerto Rico to end their colonial territory status and choose their future among the valid non-territorial options. He pushed for Congress to accept the choice of the people of Puerto Rico between statehood, with full citizenship, or real nationhood, with sovereignty and separate citizenship.” 

“Rep. Young’s commitment to stop Congress’ imposition of the unjust current territory status on Puerto Rico was unequivocal. In his words, ‘It is time we stop colonizing Puerto Rico.’ His position was based on an understanding that the current territory status represents an inherent limitation on the potential of Puerto Rico and its people, and that it denies equality to our fellow U.S. citizens on the island. For Puerto Rico, he was a patriot and emancipator, not an imperialist.”  

“Throughout his lifetime of service, Congressman Young never lost sight of the people he represented in Alaska, or of the millions of U.S. citizens that still lack representation, including those in Puerto Rico. We are deeply grateful for Congressman Young’s efforts in support of equality and statehood for Puerto Rico, and for his commitments to America’s founding value of ‘government by the consent of the governed.’ Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time,” concluded Laws García.

Rep. Don Young favored statehood for Puerto Rico and defended that option in Congress, recognizing that voters on the island have rejected the current territory status and favored statehood among the non-territory options on three occasions in the last decade. In 1998, he led House passage of the U.S. – Puerto Rico Political Status Act, which became known as the ‘Young Bill’. In 2010, he supported House passage of the Puerto Rico Democracy Act. He saw the locally led self-determination efforts first-hand even co-leading a bi-partisan electoral observation delegation during the status vote held in 2017. Most recently, he co-sponsored and advocated for passage of the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act, H.R. 1522, working hand in hand with Rep. Darren Soto and Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Jennifer González-Colón. 


The Puerto Rico Statehood Council is a Washington, D.C. based, non-partisan, 501(c)4 non-profit issue advocacy organization. We are dedicated to advancing the goal of equality for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico through statehood. 

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