Thirteen Connecticut State Representatives wrote to the Connecticut members of the U.S.Congress – Reps. John Larson, Jim Himes, Joe Courtney, Jahana Hayes, and Rosa DeLauro – urging them to support HR 1522, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Bill, legislation that recognizes past Puerto Rican plebiscites and calls for a new referendum vote. They also wrote to Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, asking them to support the companion bill, S 780.
These legislators, all of whom are Democrats, represent large numbers of Puerto Ricans:
- John Larson’s district has a Puerto Rican population of 82,907.
- Jahanna Hayes has 74,539 Puerto Rican constituents.
- Rosa DeLauro, a long-time champion of extending the Child Tax Credit fully to Puerto Rico, has 67,580 Puerto Rican residents in her district.
- Jim Himes has 44,756 Puerto Rican voters.
- Joe Courtney’s district is home to 32,245 Puerto Ricans.
The state of Connecticut as a whole has a Puerto Rican population of 302,027, the sixth largest Puerto Rican population among the 50 states. Roughly half of the state’s Hispanic population is of Puerto Rican descent.
Each state has its own House of Representatives and Senate (except Nebraska), with delegates from each of the districts in the State. This is part of the State government. These representatives are not part of the U.S. Congress, and they cannot vote on bills like HR 1522 or S 780. They can, however, reach out to their State’s representatives in the U.S. Congress to share their opinions, and their opinions could be especially valuable given how close local elected officials are to a subset of voters.
The signers of the letter include:
- Rep. Minnie Gonzalez of the 3rd District
- Rep. Joe DeLaCruz of the 41st District
- Rep. Manny Sanchez of the 24th district
- Rep. Robert Sanchez of the 25th District
- Rep. Juan Candelaria of the 95th
- Rep. Julio Concepcion of the 4th
- Rep. David Michel of the 146th
- Rep. Jason Rojas of the 9th District
- Rep. Hilda Santiago of the 84th
- Rep. Antonio Felipe of the 130th
- Rep. Christopher Rosario of the 128th
- Rep. Edwin Vargas of the 6th
- Rep. Geraldo Reyes of the 75th
- Rep. Travis Simms of the 140th
Asking for support for Puerto Rico statehood
The letter began with a reminder that Puerto Ricans are contributing citizens of the United States. “Puerto Rican Americans are community leaders, business owners and trailblazers in the fields of art, science, technology, and culture,” the authors pointed out. “Over 235,000 of these individuals have served honorably in the U.S Armed Services and fought to defend and support this country. They have shared in our triumphs and our defeats, but despite their incredible contributions to this nation, the residents of Puerto Rico remain unable to vote in elections for the President of the United States and have no voting representation in Congress.”
The letter went on to remind its readers that Puerto Rico has voted in favor of statehood.
“The best self-determination process in democracy is through the ballot, and last November Puerto Rican voters were asked a simple question: ‘Should Puerto Rico be admitted immediately as a state? Yes or No.’ A 52.52% majority voted ‘Yes.’ This was the third affirmative vote for statehood in less than a decade and the people’s choice rings clear. As proud elected officials, we must affirm the decision of the people as expressed in a free and fair election. We have an obligation to uphold their decision and work to make their will a reality.”
Both letters then asked the recipients to support the statehood bills now in Congress. “The bill outlines a clear process to enable the Island’s admission to the Union based on the precedent set for admission of states and mirroring the admission process for Alaska and Hawaii. Both S.780 and H.R. 1522 respect Puerto Rico’s right to self-determination and the choices made at the ballot box.”
The letters concluded with a call to respect the will of the people. “More than 300,000 residents of Connecticut have roots in Puerto Rico, the largest concentration of Islanders per capita in the U.S. It is unthinkable that they have access to the full rights and privileges of citizenship while their family, friends, and colleagues still living on the Island do not. Puerto Rico’s current territory status is undemocratic and unsustainable. Puerto Ricans have unquestionably demonstrated their preference for statehood, and we are proud to support them in their fight for equal political and economic rights under the law. The people have spoken; it is our job as elected officials to listen.”