Jackson County, Missouri, recently passed a resolution “urging Congress to close the Act 22 tax loophole to ensure equity and fairness for residents of Puerto Rico.” They also called for “the inclusion of the Puerto Rico Food Sovereignty Program in the Congressional farm bill.”  Jackson County is home to 2,953 people of Puerto Rican heritage, or 5% of the population, making this county #6 in the state of Missouri for this population group.

St. Louis, Missouri, also passed a resolution to “call upon the United States Congress to close the Act 22 tax loophole.” 6,221 people of Puerto Rican heritage live in St. Louis, less than 1% of the population.

In May, Chicago, Illinois, passed a resolution “of support to right of self-determination for people of Puerto Rico, opposition to Puerto Rico Status Act, and endorsement of Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act.” Chicago has 93,193 people of Puerto Rican heritage, or 3.3% of the population.

So why are these Midwestern cities taking an interest in Puerto Rico?

Puerto Ricans in the Midwest

New York has more than one million residents of Puerto Rican heritage. After Hurricane Maria, Florida surpassed New York for the first time as a home for Puerto Ricans. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have 250,000 or more. According to Pew Research, just 9% of the Puerto Rican population lives in the Midwest, with primary concentrations in Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit.

Chicago had an office of the Puerto Rican Department of Labor in the 1950s, and Puerto Rican workers were recruited to industrial jobs in the Midwest. Just as people came from the Island to agricultural jobs in the Northeast, they came for jobs in the steel mills and auto factories of the Midwest. Puerto Rican communities grew up in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.

An issue for all Americans

We’re used to seeing discussions of Puerto Rico politics in Connecticut and Massachusetts, New York and Florida, but the political status of Puerto Rico should be a concern for all Americans. Puerto Ricans live in every state, and are the neighbors and countrymen of all the U.S. citizens living in the states.  Our honor as Americans should lead us to reject the idea of holding a colony — with three million U.S. citizens — against their will.

The National Lieutenant Governors Association passed a resolution supporting statehood for Puerto Rico. LULAC, the AFL-CIO, the National Lawyers Guild, and many more national organizations have made similar statements. The voters of Puerto Rico have no voice in presidential elections, in elections for the Senate, or in voting in the House. The support of people living in the states — who have the power to vote for representatives in Washington — is essential for Puerto Rico. Support resolutions in your city, county, and state, and reach out to your congressional representatives.



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