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Some leaders in the Puerto Rican community claim that Puerto Rico voters need more information about the various status options open to them. Here is an explanation of what statehood, one of the three viable options, would mean for Puerto Rico. The paragraph below is the way statehood was described on the 2012 referendum ballot.

(I) Statehood: Puerto Rico should be admitted as a state of the United States of America so that all United States citizens residing in Puerto Rico may have rights, benefits, and responsibilities equal to those enjoyed by all other citizens of the states of the Union, and be entitled to full representation in Congress and to participate in the Presidential elections, and the United States Congress would be required to pass any necessary legislation to begin the transition into Statehood. If you agree, mark here:

If Puerto Rico were to become a State, it would automatically be treated as any other State under federal law, including the U.S. Constitution.  U.S. citizenship for native Puerto Ricans would become constitutionally protected.  Proportional representation in Congress and the right to vote for president would similarly be extended to Puerto Ricans through the Constitution. Any of the myriad federal laws explicitly mentioning “States” -including Medicare, Medicaid, nutrition assistance, economic incentives (e.g. enterprise zones, new market tax credits) and taxes (including refundable  tax credits) – would ultimately apply with equal force to Puerto Rico.

Under statehood, new federal funding could multiply to create new jobs across a wide range of professions. Billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid funding would translate into jobs for health professionals – doctors, hospital administrators, therapists, home health aides and others; increased resources for border patrol would provide career opportunities in law enforcement; a stronger federal presence would involve the hiring of attorneys, law clerks, secretaries and other office workers; new roads and construction would require the assistance of manual labor and expert engineers.  New opportunities may even lure the thousands of Puerto Ricans who have migrated to states in the past few years in search of a better life back home to Puerto Rico.

The United States of America is a nation consisting of fifty distinct States with different cultures and unique histories. With the notable exception of the thirteen original colonies, States have generally gained entry into the union after petitioning the federal government on behalf of its people. The U.S. Constitution (Article IV, Section 3) sets a broad framework for admission, permitting Congress to admit new States and not dictating specific prerequisites that must be met.

The process for statehood admittance has been consistent throughout United States history. Once a majority of people living in the territory express a preference for statehood, a request is sent to Congress.  Passage of a federal law authorizing statehood requires only a simple majority vote in Congress. The legislation may include transitional measures and stipulations, such as requiring the territory to adopt a republican constitution if not already in place. Often the path to statehood is paved by prior federal financial assistance to the territory in the form of education, infrastructure and health and welfare services.

11 thoughts on “Statehood”

  1. I must certainly agree that my Puerto Rico should become the 51th State, how proud I would be to see Puerto Rico flying high on the American flag as the newest kid on the block “as the 51th State”

  2. I want Puerto Rico to become a state and thereby receive equal treatment for 3.5 million American Citizens. Or alternatively, to be an independant country and receive equality as member of the community of free nations. The present colnial status is shameful for both the U.S. Government and for all Puerto Ricans and a definate black eye to American Democracy.

  3. Fernando, it does matter what we want for P.R. to become another star of the union, but the decision strive in the Island Borcicuas habit ants. They have the tools in their hands but they don’t know how to use it. For 117 years P.R. has been a possession of the EE UU I said possession not to say “Colony” out of those 117 years , 95 as a American Citizens, Don’t you think that is about time that we lift up the humble lamp from the floor his knees are sore. Let lift up the Corderito manso y luchemos por la Estadidad o por una indepencia incondicional. El problema striba entre los politicos que ellos luchan por un puesto politico donde puedan derribar un buen salario, buen bono, y buenas vacaciones.

    During the republican debates I send three (3) questions to the mediators to be air during the debate, but, but. not even place me a call or and email message to let me know about my questions nor even air. For your delight I’m going to stated them hereinbelow First question: what are your plans regarding the Island’s Status? does it makr sense to continue with commonwealth status? or does itnow make sense gor Puerto Rico join the union as the 51 1st State or go its own path as an independent country?
    Segunda pregunta: Regarding the present Financial Crisis in Puerto Rico, What are your plans to assist Puerto Rico to survive?
    Tercera Pregunta: How can we as a nation , justify turning our backs on Puerto Rico while at the same time encouraging expanding friendly with Cuba that will lead to economic development of Puerto Rico’s neighbor in the Caribbean? They did not answer me, because they don’t care.
    I’m a Korean War Veteran. Three (3) months after my High School Graduation, “Uncle Sam” told me “I want you” and this how I came to live in the US.

  4. Puerto Rico would be better off being an independent country. That way they can preserve their language and heritage. Becoming a state would through the Puerto Rican people into the American Waring blender, and their language and identity of a people would become assimilated into that of a typical American. It will have to be carefully considered what the priorities should be.

  5. I will truly love to see my island as a state, with all the rights like so many other Spanish states. It will bring many of us back. Its a dream, I hope it will become a reality

  6. What other Spanish states? Every other territory was overwhelmingly assimilated when it voted for statehood, including Hawaii(which was also greatly gentrified by various colonists and other immigrants). It wasn’t until after they were states that foreign immigration in the South drove up Latin American culture, and that is still compartmentalized as a “sub-culture” within the larger American identity.

    Statehood for Puerto Rico would only increase its dependence on the US and increase competition between it and the other states for federal funding, not to mention increase taxes for businesses and middle class residents. Our representation in Congress won’t amount to much since our interests would still be very unique as a small archipelago in the middle of the Caribbean, as opposed to the majority of other contiguous states that share a lot of the same aspirations due to their close proximity, geography, and culture.

    The idea of representative government is great, but in practical terms Puerto Rico would not be in much better shape as a state of the US than it is now. The economic benefits and costs would even out and we would end up sacrificing our separate national identity in favor of assimilation, which will lead to further disenfranchisement down the line.

  7. This has been my life long dream to see our island star together with all the fifty stars. For all my brothers and sisters on the island to enjoy the same privileges we enjoy in the states. I know many of us will return and invest on our island without the fear of becoming a banana republic. Viva Statehood

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