In 1965, Governor Luis Muñoz Marin of Puerto Rico gave a speech called “The Deep Significance of United States Citizenship.” With Citizenship Day coming up on March 2, it’s a good time to look back at the important points he made.

Muñoz Marin supported a “commonwealth” which has been proven to be mythical, and some of his speech focuses on this: the idea that Puerto Rico would only be subject to federal laws with the agreement of the people of Puerto Rico, for example, and that the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico was unique. These things were widely believed in 1965, but we now see that they did not turn out to be true.

His views on citizenship, however, apply to us now as they did then.

Puerto Ricans who are citizens of the United States

“We are Puerto Ricans who are citizens of the United States,” he said, “not citizens of the United States who have ceased being Puerto Ricans.”

As citizens of the state of Puerto Rico, we will be Puerto Ricans as surely as the citizens of Texas are Texans — and U.S. citizenship is just as appropriate and necessary for us as for the Texans, New Yorkers, and Californians who take pride in their states.

“It should be obvious,” Muñoz Marin continued, “that the greatest value of United States citizenship, which we carry proudly together with that of Puerto Rico, is the right to be different, to have individual and collective traits which are developed spontaneously by every individual, every community, every people in the struggle of its spirit with its circumstances and destiny.”

The speech goes on to admire and celebrate diversity, as well as unity in diversity. Unity is important to U.S. citizenship, Muñoz Marin said, as much as U.S. citizenship supports diversity.

“Certain attitudes, of course, must be common to all who cherish a common citizenship,” said Muñoz Marin. “Deep loyalty to the basic and unchangeable values of democracy, deep loyalty to the duty of defending those principles with unfaltering devotion.”

Citizenship Day

March 2, 2023, is the 106th anniversary of the day in 1917 when Puerto Ricans gained U.S. citizenship. Anyone who wanted to reject U.S. citizenship had the right to do so, but everyone born in Puerto Rico from that day forward had birthright U.S. citizenship.

This is a day to celebrate U.S. citizenship, but also a good day to commit to action which will make that citizenship permanent. As a state, Puerto Rico will have full citizenship under the U.S. Constitution, like all the other states. Under any other status, Puerto Rico could lose the current statutory citizenship.



2 Responses

  1. • 8 USC Code, CH 12, SUB-CH III: NATIONALITY & NATURALIZATION-can be amended or revoked by US Congress) like it has done in the past.  Code §1402: “All persons born in Puerto Rico on or after April 11, 1899, and prior to January 13, 1941, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, residing on January 13, 1941, in Puerto Rico or another territory over which the United States exercises rights of sovereignty and not citizens of the United States under any other Act, are declared to be citizens of the United States as of January 13, 1941. All persons born in Puerto Rico on or after January 13, 1941, and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, are Citizens of the US at birth.”
    **NOTE: Statutory US Citizenship is by a Law that can be revoked and it is not by “birthright”… nor fully protected by the 14th Amendment nor Due Process (which doesn’t cover suffrage… Statutory US Citizenship is not permanent under Independence where the US Constitution or US Laws will not apply…)
    Please, read my factual comments on this.

    Statutory US Citizenship is non-permanent as it’s governed by the trite US Constitution’s Territory Clause (1787) that states: “US Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the Territory and other Properties belonging to the US…” Besides, the “Insular Cases” (1901-1925 + based on racism and discrimination) state (not in the US Constitution)—“Puerto Rico is an “unincorporated” US Territory that is more foreign than domestic, belongs to, but, is not part of the United States”. (Other US Territories before Puerto Rico were NOT treated this way.)

    The only permanent with full rights US Citizenship is per our US Constitution’s 14th Amendment (1868): “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside…” The 14th Amendment (that supersedes) does not mention US Territories, especially “unincorporated Territories” which incongruently are not considered part or soil of the US…” per the racist and discriminatory US Supreme Court “Insular Cases” (which also state the US Constitution doesn’t fully apply to “unincorporated” US Territories; making a statutory US Citizenship not permanent (under Article 4-Territorial Clause; not under Article 1 or 14th Amendment).

    The legal meaning of statutory US Citizenship is a confusing and complex issue that is unsettled law… However, there is no precedence or settled law or Constitutional Article, or Supreme Court Decision that mentions statutory US Citizens have a permanent US Citizenship or is for “Life with benefits…” which contradicts those that say this is possible… You can’t have it both ways– its illogical and nonsensical to say statutory US Citizenship is not permanent and then turn around and say you can keep it for Life (with benefits) under Independence (without or with a Pact of Free Association)! (See below Sources.)

    Once, there is Independence, a Nation has its own Sovereignty and Citizenship, after which (not before) it can enter into a Pact (like Free Association) between sovereign Nations… Plus, US Laws (like the Territorial Clause, Insular Cases, the 1917-Jones Act (which granted a statutory US Citizenship to Puerto Ricans), and the 8th USC Code–will cease to be in effect, and subject to no negotiation; and can’t be imposed on an Independent Nation with its own Constitution, Citizenship, and Sovereignty. Also, in our US Constitution there is no mention of “Group Dual Citizenship” provided to a Foreign Country…

    A Nation can’t be Sovereign with the Citizenship of another Nation! Where would the National Loyalty lie? The US Congress (is not above our US Constitution); doesn’t have the power to grant or impose National US Citizenship to the Citizens of an Independent Nation or provide US Citizens with Federal benefits in another Country (that will manage these benefits), under any Pact. Thus, Puerto Rican statutory (by Law) US Citizenship will be lost (even for those residing in a State), under Independence…

    Statutory US Citizens that reside in the States have an equity interest because they can lose their statutory US Citizenship under Independence (without or with a Pact of Free Association)… Thus, the US Congress must state in any Plebiscite– that statutory US Citizens residing in a State will not lose their US Citizenship (naturalize them under the 14th Amendment) or let them Vote because the outcome affects them… Only Statehood guarantees permanent US Citizenship!
    “En la Unión esta la Fuerza!”
    Until there is a clear Decision by the Supreme Court, today, the facts point to that there are two main sources of US Citizenship—One permanent– fully protected by the 14th Amendment; the Other– is statutory or “by Law”– which is un-permanent (for un-incorporated US Territories under the undemocratic control of the US Congress), not fully protected, as any Law can be amended or revoked by the US Congress or cease to exist upon Independence…
    Silence to discrimination; supports injustice!
    FIX: Our Federal Government (Legislative, Executive, & Judicial) must focus on Equal Rights for all (the bedrock of our Democracy); conduct a defined PR Plebiscite, with non-Territorial options-which are:
    STATEHOOD-MEANS: Admission to our diverse “UNION of STATES”– under US Constitution/ Laws/ Democracy; EQUAL US Citizenship with full Rights, Benefits, and Responsibilities; with PR-STATE Identity, Constitution, Flag, Sovereignty… as other States & other US Citizens have…
    INDEPENDENCE- MEANS: Puerto Rico National Sovereignty; PR Constitution/Laws, PR Citizenship…; with loss of US Constitution & statutory US Citizenship, Rights, and Benefits…
    INDEPENDENCE with Free Association PACT-MEANS: Puerto Rico National Sovereignty; PR Constitution/ Laws, PR Citizenship…; with loss of US Constitution & statutory US Citizenship, Rights, and Benefits… But, with a negotiated/limited PACT between Independent Nations on Terms (like trade, defense, etc.) that can be terminated by either side…
    In a UNION-each State is stronger than by itself; complements others, with progress–for the Good of All!
    “En la UNIÓN está la Fuerza!”
    (Dennis O. Freytes-Florida Veterans Hall of Fame; former PMS-Professor UPR…)
    Types-Sources-Basis of US Citizenship
    • Individual Birthright Citizenship-“jus soli” (right of soil)–per the 14th Amendment (States: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the US and of the State wherein they reside.” (Doesn’t mention Territories…) (unquestioned permanent US Citizenship)
    • Naturalization Citizenship—process through which immigrants from other countries can also become citizens if they wish to … (per 14th Amendment) (unquestioned permanent US Citizenship)
    • Acquired Citizenship– acquiring citizenship from US Citizen Parents; by descent from a State’s national (jus sanguinis)… (per US Congress-8 USC Code)
    • Group Statutory US Citizenship- per the US Territorial Clause; Insular Cases (1901-1925+); Jones Act (1917); 8 USC Code §1402 (which can be amended or revoked)–Ends upon Independence…
    Statutory (by law) US Citizenship Summary
    1. The US Supreme Court (Insular Cases) has established that the US Constitution doesn’t fully apply to Puerto Rico, except for some broad rights that have not been defined. (Harris v Rosario-1980)…
    2. Territorial Clause (1789): “The US Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all rules and regulations pertaining to the Territory or other property belonging to the US.” (Statutory US Citizenship was extended to a “Group” not to an Individual like in the 14th Amendment; ENDS upon Independence).
    3. The 1917 Jones Act-8th USC Code–provide a Group un-permanent statutory US Citizenship; are based on the temporary Territorial Clause, not the 14th Amendment that guarantees permanent Citizenship.
    4. Insular Cases (1901-1925+): Puerto Rico “is more foreign than domestic, belongs to, but is not part of the US… (Soil)” (which needs to be revoked because it’s based on Federal discrimination-racism…)
    5. USC Code §1402-is only for Persons born in the US Territory of Puerto Rico (doesn’t mention “birthright” Citizenship…); isn’t under Naturalization… This is a specific Code that can be amended or revoked (like in the past); is non-permanent; and doesn’t apply upon Independence…
    6. The US Constitution or US Laws can’t be extended to an Independent Nation as the US Congress is not above the US Constitution. But, it can amend or revoke any Laws-Codes it makes which will cease to apply to a US Territory if it becomes an Independent Nation (with or without Free Association)
    7. “Group” issued statutory US Citizenship is based on the Territorial Clause…, will end upon Independence. Only Statehood guarantees a permanent US Citizenship… (See Research/Facts)
    8. Congress has no ‘power, express or implied, to take away an American Citizen’s citizenship without his assent,’ Afroyim v. Rusk…But, as pointed below these were utterances bottomed upon Fourteenth Amendment citizenship and that Amendment’s direct reference to ‘persons born or naturalized in the United States.’
    Some SOURCES-Statutory US Citizenship is un-permanent: Email me and I will provide two pages of sources.

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