Presidential candidate Donald Trump has released his first official statement on Puerto Rico status.
“There are 3.7 million American citizens living in Puerto Rico,” begins the statement. “As citizens, they should be entitled to determine for themselves their political status.”
The Trump statement continues to advocate a “process where Puerto Ricans might resolve thier status” and pledges that as president he will do his “part to insure that Congress follows the Constitution.”
The statement concludes “the will of the Puerto Rican people in any status referendum should be considered as Congress follows through on any desired change in status for Puerto Rico, including statehood.”
The Trump statement explicitly notes that statehood is an option that should be considered for Puerto Rico. Trump, however, does not go as far as former Presidents, such as Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, in proactively calling for statehood, nor does he match the ambition of some of his current competitors, such as Jeb Bush and Ben Carson, in calling for Puerto Rico statehood. Former Presidential candidate and Sen. Bob Dole stongly endorsed a vote on statehood in Puerto Rico. Sen. Marco Rubio has also endorsed a resolution of Puerto Rico’s curent unequal treatment, and he has called in particular an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit to low income workers in Puerto Rico.
Trump’s statement reflects the fact that ultimately Congress determines Puerto Rico’s status, as set forth under the Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constition calling upon Congres to “dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.”