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An Issue for All Americans

Only residents of Puerto Rico were eligible to vote in the November 2012 referendum on Puerto Rico’s political status. Only residents of Puerto Rico will vote in the next — the first federally funded — referendum, but that doesn’t mean that Puerto Rico’s status is important just to people living in Puerto Rico.

Members of the U.S. government and other high profile Americans have recognized this. You’ll find links to many more of these statements at the bottom of the page, but here are a few quotes that speak to this point:

[T]his is not primarily about Puerto Rico, but about the rest of us. What are our values? What is our culture? How can we make one America in a world and a nation ever more diverse?

President Bill Clinton, Democratic Governors Association Dinner, February 23, 1998

[T]his is a domestic obligation of ours. [Puerto Rico] is not another country.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Hearing before the Committee on Foreign Relations (video)

We cannot expect our foreign policies to be enjoying prestige around the world – attracting support instead of collapsing – when we are having serious problems with our closest neighbors.

Ronald Reagan, “Puerto Rico and Statehood,” Wall Street Journal, February 11, 1980.

Make a career of humanity, commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of our country, and a finer world to live in.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Puerto Rico has been a possession of the United States since 1898, so its treatment is relevant to everyone in the United States.

Puerto Rico is a part of the American political family:

  • Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917.
  • They are not considered immigrants when they move to the United States — which they can do freely.
  • You don’t need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico.

The question is not whether Puerto Rico is American – unless Puerto Rico votes to become an independent nation, that issue has already been decided. The question is how Puerto Ricans should be included in the nation of which they are already citizens. Learn more about Puerto Rico’s relationship with the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The United States has led the world in the advancement of democratic freedoms. U.S. ownership of a territory of close to four million people undermines its position as a world leader of democracy.

Read statements from the people of Puerto Rico making the case for federal leadership on the status issue.

Read statements by national state and community leaders throughout the U.S. on the need to clarify serious, realistic status options for Puerto Rican self determination.

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