Lack of Social Security Income Benefits in Puerto Rico Points to Inequality

The First Circuit court ruled last Friday that the federal government cannot exclude Puerto Rico from Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. In its opinion, the court cited longstanding precedent holding that the U.S. is allowed to treat territories differently from states as long as there is a rational basis for the difference. In… Read more »

Court Rules Puerto Ricans Entitled To SSI Benefits

A Federal appellate court ruled on Friday that Puerto Ricans are eligible for Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits under the U.S. Constitution. Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Judge Juan R. Torruella concluded that the exclusion of otherwise eligible Puerto Rico residents from… Read more »

Puerto Rico Gets Resourceful about Coronavirus Response

Puerto Rico is facing some special challenges when it comes to the response to the pandemic. A shortage of doctors, tests, emergency responders, medical supplies, and funding for the healthcare system combine to make it more difficult for Puerto Rico to handle COVID-19 cases. The governor called for strict curfews early on, keeping the numbers… Read more »

Are Puerto Rico’s COVID-19 Restrictions “Dictatorial”?

Puerto Rico has seen 24 deaths from the coronavirus, as of this writing, and 620 confirmed cases. This is fewer than many states with similar populations. For example, Arkansas has 1,000 cases,  Iowa has 1049, Utah has 1738, and Nevada has 2216. One reason that Puerto Rico has fewer cases of COVID-19 than states with… Read more »

Are Puerto Rico Coronavirus Numbers Accurate?

As of this writing, Puerto Rico has 513 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 15 deaths. However, there is uncertainty over the numbers. The death toll after Hurricane Maria was hard to capture, and estimates varied widely. The uncertainty about numbers for the coronavirus is caused by some of the same issues… but there are additional… Read more »

Lawmakers Express Concerns about Addressing Coronavirus in Puerto Rico

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), and Joaquin Castro (D-TX) wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the White House Task Force on Coronavirus, asking what the White House plans to do in support of Puerto Rico during the pandemic. “Because of the ongoing impacts of Hurricanes Irma… Read more »

Coronavirus Funding Shows Need for Statehood for Puerto Rico and D.C.

Cady Stanton of the Washington Monthly has pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic is putting a spotlight on some problems in the United States. “The coronavirus pandemic has revealed many flaws in America,” she wrote. “It has also reinforced the need to address certain geographic inequities. Case in point: D.C. and Puerto Rico are less equipped… Read more »

Puerto Rico Poised to be Part of the National Conversation on Manufacturing

On Friday, President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, providing the government with broad authority to direct companies to meet national defense needs.  He then ordered Michigan-based General Motors to begin production of life-saving ventilators. Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez Colon (R-PR) similarly sees a possibility to use the Defense Production Act to help Puerto… Read more »

Puerto Rico Is Part of U.S. Current Events

Puerto Rico cannot vote in presidential elections, but does have a voice in presidential primaries. In this election year, Puerto Rico had moved its Democratic primary race to March, instead of its traditional date in June, in hopes of highlighting the influence Puerto Rican voters have — in spite of the lack of that presidential… Read more »

Puerto Rico Tightens COVID-19 Restrictions

Puerto Rico already had some of the tightest restrictions on people’s movements, and last night Governor Wanda Velazquez Garced issued new rules that make Puerto Rico among the toughest jurisdictions in the U.S. to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Previous rulings had all but essential workers required to stay home from 9:00 p.m.to 5:00… Read more »