“There must be a system in place that works,” said former Governor Luis Fortuno at the beginning of an interview on ABC’s Topline. Fortuno was speaking in response to a question on immigration reform. As a Puerto Rican and therefore a citizen of the United States, Fortuno is not an immigrant, but as a Hispanic leader within the Republican party, he is often called upon to speak on the subject.
“Republicans are in the midst of a major period of soul-searching,” said the interviewer, asking for prescriptions for the Republican party. Fortuno had suggestions.
“We need more Hispanic and Asian-American candidates, women candidates, young candidates,” Fortuno said. He continued, “our candidates must show up at events in all these communities throughout the election cycle in order to show respect and to understand the needs of those communities… We must be the party of opportunity.”
Fortuno was also asked about his support for Puerto Rican statehood.
“Puerto Rican voters last November rejected the present territorial status by a wide margin, so that tells you that something ought to happen,” Fortuno said. “We are a territory, and only Congress can change our status.”
Fortuno refers to the fact that a territory of the United States is entirely under the control of Congress. Puerto Rico has a representative in Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, but that representative is not able to vote in the House (though Pierluisi is able to vote in committee). Congress could choose to honor the plebiscite, as both Republican and Democratic party platforms said they would, and Fortuno expressed his belief that they will do so this year.
However, without action from Congress, Puerto Rico cannot become a state (the option chosen by the majority of those who voted in the plebiscite) or take any other action apart from continuing to tolerate the territorial status that they rejected in November.