National Council of La Raza Says “Our Fellow Americans in Puerto Rico Must Not Be Forgotten”

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) has spoken out in support of helping Puerto Rico, demanding action from Congress to help the island deal with the current financial challenges and stave off the possible threats to human wellbeing.

The NCLR is the largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group in the United States, founded in 1968 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. With 300 affiliate oganizations in 41 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico, NCLR reaches a large and diverse group of Hispanic Americans.

A statement by Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR, begins with a recap of events and issues in Puerto Rico. “[T]he economic challenges facing the island are leading to a humanitarian crisis of enormous proportion for the 3.5 million American citizens who live there,” Murguía states. “The result is … hundreds of thousands of people leaving in search of the success and stability that eludes them at home.”

Puerto Rico has not only coped with a 72+ billion dollar debt burden, job loss, and a dwindling population this year, but also with a severe drought and health care issues ranging from a loss in federal support to a loss of doctors.

“Yet outside of the Puerto Rican community both on the island and on the mainland,” the authors say, “few of our fellow Americans are aware of what is happening. Our government is reacting with a decided lack of urgency. That has to change.”

In a nation where the millions of citizens in Puerto Rico have no vote in Congress, nor in presidential elections, and where many people on the mainland are simply unaware that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, there is little outrage over Puerto Rico’s troubles. The NCLR wants to see that change.

“[W]e are urging swift and robust action on the part of the federal government, especially from Congress. Puerto Rico cannot solve this crisis on its own and that is by design—Congress’s design.”

Congress has plenary power over Puerto Rico, under the Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The NCLR article concludes with a call to action:

“NCLR joins the voices of concerned and responsible Americans in calling for Congress to open its eyes to the humanitarian crisis at our doorstep. It’s time to act. Give Puerto Rico the opportunity, the ability, and the essential policy changes to resolve this crisis. Show our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico that they are not forgotten.”

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