Puerto Ricans Are Not Immigrants

During the presidential election, the subject of immigration reform came up frequently. So did the subject of Puerto Rico’s status. In fact, the two topics often came up together — much to the irritation of Puerto Ricans.

“We are citizens, not immigrants,” José Aponte Hernandez was quoted as saying in El Vocero de Puerto Rico, a free newspaper published in San Juan. Aponte Hernandez, former Speaker of the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico, is one of a group of statesmen who will travel to Washington on March 2, 2013, the anniversary of the day in 1917 when Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship.

It is startling that, nearly a century later, Puerto Ricans are still thought of as immigrants. Mainstream media continue to describe Justice Sotomayor as “the daughter of Peurto Rican immigrants,” and Puerto Rican leaders are asked their views on immigration reform as though they would be personally affected by such reforms.

Aponte Hernandez pointed out that “the issue of equality of American Citizenship in Puerto Rico is not discussed as much as undocumented immigrants in the United States.”

Controversy regarding the November plebiscite has centered on issues of logistics and speculation on the intentions of voters, disregarding the continued unequal treatment of the millions of U.S. citizens living on the island.

“Given this situation,” Aponte Hernandez continued, “it is necessary to pressure the President and Congress to honor the results of the plebiscite held on November 6… Let’s celebrate our American citizenship, and demand equality.”

The delegation will visit Capitol Hill and the White House, where they will present their case for equality for Puerto Rico.  Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, protesters will go to the Federal Court in San Juan, as well as the municipalities of Arecibo and Mayagüez, to express their support of the delegation.

The events have the support of Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, Aponte Hernandez said.

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