A New Kind of Tennessee Plan for Puerto Rico Statehood

 

Tilman Goins (R-TN) has filed a resolution in the Tennessee General Assembly, HJR0031, supporting statehood for Puerto Rico. Specifically, the bill states that “this General Assembly urges the United States Congress to enact legislation enabling Puerto Rico’s admission as the fifty-first state of the Union.”

The bill begins with a quick lesson on Puerto Rico’s history:

WHEREAS, Puerto Rico has a long and distinguished history that encompasses its last 118 years under U.S. sovereignty;

and WHEREAS, after Columbus’s arrival in the New World, Puerto Rico was under Spanish control almost continuously for more than four centuries until 1898;

and WHEREAS, in the summer of that year, the United States invaded Puerto Rico as part of our Caribbean intervention during the Spanish-American War;

and WHEREAS, after a thirteen-day military campaign, U.S. forces took Puerto Rico; they encountered little opposition and were instead greeted by Puerto Ricans with cheers;

and WHEREAS, in December 1898, the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish-American War, gave control of Puerto Rico to the U.S.;

and WHEREAS, even prior to this historic event, there was strong sentiment for annexation by the U.S. among Puerto Ricans, because America was, and still is, the main export market for Puerto Rican goods;

and WHEREAS, in 1917, Congress granted U.S. citizenship to all former Spanish subjects and their children living in Puerto Rico; reorganized the island’s government into legislative, executive, and judicial branches to mirror state governments; created a new federal district court on the island; and made Puerto Rico subject to all federal laws;

and WHEREAS, in 1948, Puerto Rico was granted a fully representative local government when Congress first allowed the island to elect its governor, who had previously been a presidential appointee;

 

The bill goes on to say that “the island was granted ‘free associated state’ or commonwealth status in 1952,” though the word “commonwealth” has no legal meaning in this context and is not the same as the Free Associated State status which countries such as the Marshall Islands have.

Then the bill continues, pointing out the strong relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico:

WHEREAS, during the 118 years of a mutually beneficial relationship, ties between the United States and Puerto Rico have strengthened in ways that are of constitutional significance, as Puerto Ricans have steadily integrated into American culture and institutions of U.S. government have grown substantially in Puerto Rico;

and WHEREAS, 400,000 Puerto Ricans have served in the United States armed forces in every conflict since World War I;

and WHEREAS, perhaps the greatest indicator of the integration of Puerto Rico into American society is the fact that, as of the 2010 Census, more Puerto Ricans now live on the mainland U.S. than on Puerto Rico;

Goins then makes a clear statement of the civil rights issues facing Puerto Rico:

and WHEREAS, despite this cultural and economic integration, Puerto Ricans are still relegated to second-class citizenship due to their island being an unincorporated U.S. territory instead of a sovereign state of the Union; Puerto Ricans do not have voting representation in the United States Congress, which has plenary powers over their affairs, nor are they entitled to electoral votes for President;

and WHEREAS, in a 2012 local referendum, a fifty-four-percent majority voted to end Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. territory, and sixty-one percent approved U.S. statehood over other options;

Goins reminds us that the national political party he represents has pledged to support statehood for Puerto Rico and also that the United States as a nation has a duty to Puerto Rico:

and WHEREAS, in its national platform, the Republican Party has pledged its support for the admission of Puerto Rico as a fully sovereign state into the Union;

and WHEREAS, the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico have spoken, and this nation should support their desire to seek statehood;

And, with all those important points being made, here’s the resolution:

now, therefore, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED TENTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE CONCURRING, that this General Assembly urges the United States Congress to enact legislation enabling Puerto Rico’s admission as the fifty-first state of the Union.

We applaud Goins, we hope to see this resolution passed, and we call on other states to do the same!

@TilmanGoins Thanks for your support of statehood for Puerto Rico! Click To Tweet

One Comment

María de Lourdes Gómez

Puerto Rico needs all the support we can get from the States and any other entities that want to express their support for our cause to be accepted as the 51st. STATE of the Union so that Congress acts quickly on our behalf.

Reply

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