Congressman Mike Waltz of Florida made a statement on the Puerto Rico Status Act. “I support the right of the Puerto Rican people to self-determine their own fate. Repeatedly, in past referendums, Puerto Ricans have overwhelmingly made their voices clear in supporting statehood,” he wrote at his website.
Waltz supports statehood, but unlike many other esadistas, including Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, he does not support HR8393, the Puerto Rico Status Act. HR8393 was a compromise bill filed and passed by the House of Representatives in 2022.
We support statehood. HR8393 or similar legislation that might be filed in the current Congress is a valuable step toward statehood. There are flaws in the bill. However, the bill provides a choice of three status options. While both versions of independence — independence with and without a compact of free association –have problems, the definition of statehood and the planned transition from territory to state is clear and similar to the paths taken by other states.
Since we know that statehood is likely to be the choice of the voters, as it has been in every referendum so far this century, we are confident that this bill will lead to the best possible outcome.
Speaking of HR8393, Walz said, “The self-executing legislation rammed through the waning days of the 117th Congress is just another barrier to granting the people’s will, while setting a dangerous precedent if independence is chosen regarding citizenship rights, transfer of federal properties, and continued federal payments to another foreign nation, which I cannot support.”
The citizenship issue is one of the most contentious. Congress made some changes to the positions on citizenship in the bill. All three options, under the terms of the bill, would allow current U.S. citizens born in Puerto Rico to keep their U.S. citizenship for life.
Under independence, “Puerto Rico has full authority and responsibility over its citizenship and immigration laws, and birth in Puerto Rico or relationship to persons with statutory United States citizenship by birth in the former territory shall cease to be a basis for United States nationality or citizenship, except that persons who have such United States citizenship have a right to retain United States nationality and citizenship for life, by entitlement or election as provided by Federal law.”
Under free association, “Puerto Rico has full authority and responsibility over its citizenship and immigration laws, and persons who have United States citizenship have a right to retain United States nationality and citizenship for life by entitlement or election as provided by Federal law…Birth in Puerto Rico shall cease to be a basis for United States nationality or citizenship. Individuals born in Puerto Rico to at least one parent who is a citizen of the United States shall be United States citizens at birth, consistent with the immigration laws of the United States, for the duration of the first agreement of the Articles of Free Association.”
“I am an original cosponsor of the Puerto Rico Admission Act which sets a clear and direct path to admit Puerto Rico as the 51st state,” Walz continued, “and will continue to work with Rep. Gonzalez-Colon who has been a tireless champion for the island.”
Walz believes that a bill like HR8393 will delay the admission of Puerto Rico as a state, and this could well be true. However, Rep. Walz supports statehood, as do we. Since it has already passed the House once, we believe that it can do so again. Ask your Congressperson to reintroduce the bill in the current Congress and keep Puerto Rico moving toward a permanent political status.