February 16, 2024

Washington, D.C. – This week, the Puerto Rico Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee) to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) published its first memorandum as part of its study on the effects of the Insular Cases and the Non-Incorporation Doctrine on the civil rights of the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico. This is the first publication by the Advisory Committee since its establishment in 2022. The Puerto Rico Statehood Council (PRSC) participated in the Advisory Committee’s public hearing in May of last year and contributed testimony to the report highlighting the democratic deficit experienced by Puerto Rico’s 3.2 million residents and the urgent need for Congress to pass legislation to end the current territorial status.

“It was an honor to participate and provide testimony in support of the work of the Puerto Rico Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. We applaud the release of their first memorandum on how 125 years of colonial territorialism negatively impacts the daily lives of U.S. citizens living on the island of Puerto Rico and the urgent need to change that,” said George H. Laws García, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Statehood Council (PRSC). “This memo represents another significant piece of evidence of the inherent injustices that Puerto Rico faces as a U.S. territory, and the need for all Americans to become aware and take action so that their fellow U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico can finally decide their future political status outside of territorial colonialism.”

The memorandum highlights the relationship of political subjugation by the federal government over the residents of Puerto Rico due to their current territory status. This includes unequal and discriminatory treatment in terms of reduced federal benefits as well as limited voting and civil rights. The memo also detailed the impact of territorial status on vulnerable communities on the island, which degrades their quality of life and increases the loss of population to the states from many of the islands young, talented, educated citizens due to a lack of opportunities.

“Momentum for ending Puerto Rico’s unjust territory status and allowing island residents a definitive choice for their future continues to grow,” commented Laws García. “Not only have voters in Puerto Rico rejected the current territory status and favored statehood three times in the last decade, but the House and Senate have both introduced popular, bipartisan legislative solutions, and now the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is hearing directly from island residents about the need for Congress to end territorial status which violates the civil liberties of all U.S. citizens living on the island by passing legislation such as the Puerto Rico Status Act,” explained Mr. Laws.

This memorandum is the first in a series that the Advisory Committee will develop over the coming months ahead of developing a final report with recommendations to the Commission. The Committee is drawing testimony from diverse voices, including economists, academics, non-profits, community leaders and everyday Puerto Ricans.



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 full equality and democracy for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico through statehood.

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