“The promise of America is equal justice,” says Juan Camilo Ruiz, “and that’s what Puerto Rico statehood means.”
Every state has two senators, plus Members of the House in proportion to the population of the state. Utah, which has about the same population as Puerto Rico, has four Members of Congress. As a state, Puerto Rico would have six representatives in Congress.
Puerto Rico is a territory. We have one representative in Congress, and no senators at all. The single representative in the House cannot vote on laws. She can introduce laws and serve on committees, but she cannot vote on the floor of the House, even on decisions that directly affect Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico can vote in presidential primaries, but cannot vote in presidential elections. The United States does not choose the president with a poplar vote. Instead, each state votes and the Electors for the state pass on that vote. The states, not the citizens, elect the president.
People born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens. If they live in a state, they can vote in presidential elections and they are fully represented in Congress.
People living in the territory of Puerto Rico, however, have very little say in American democracy.
That means that Puerto Rico has very little voice and very little influence. Congress makes many decisions for Puerto Rico. The President of the United States makes decisions that affect Puerto Rico. But the voters of Puerto Rico have little power.
Statehood will change this immediately. Under the U.S. Constitution, each state is on an equal footing with all the other states. It’s that simple. Puerto Rico has voted for statehood three times during this century. Now Congress must take action. Equal justice under the law is available to Puerto Rico only through statehood.