Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) recently tweeted remarks she made in the U.S. House of Representatives about the status of Puerto Rico, a territory belonging to the United States.
Representing a state that is home to more than one million people from Puerto Rico, Murphy’s representation of her constituents requires her to be aware of Puerto Rico. As a refugee and immigrant, Murphy has personal feelings about Americans who speak multiple languages and treasure their diverse cultures. As an American, Murphy wants to see the United States honor the core values of democracy and respect for the vote.
Her speech touched on all these points. You can watch the full speech in the video below.
A clear majority of Puerto Rico voters want the territory to be a state. It’s hard for me to understand those who live in a state and enjoy all the benefits of statehood, but oppose statehood for our fellow U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico. pic.twitter.com/sisyVa65oi
— U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (@RepStephMurphy) January 27, 2021
Florida now has more Puerto Rican residents than any other state. “We will always welcome these families with open arms,” said Murphy.
However, she doesn’t want the people of Puerto Rico to be forced to leave the Island in order to gain the rights and opportunities offered by a state.
Her constituents have friends and relatives who still live in Puerto Rico, and they care about Puerto Rico — including the political status of the territory. “Because they care deeply about Puerto Rico,” says Murphy, “I care deeply about Puerto Rico.”
Murphy continues, “But every member of Congress should care deeply about Puerto Rico, because they are our fellow American citizens.”
Murphy’s personal opinions
“I personally support statehood because I think it will provide the people of Puerto Rico with democracy and equality and political power and a better quality of life.”
Murphy shared her own experience of growing up in Virginia as a refugee from Vietnam. She expressed a devotion to the diversity that makes America what it is. But she also noted that her own opinion on the political status of Puerto Rico should not be substituted for that of the people of Puerto Rico.
If they wanted to be an independent nation or to continue as a territory, Murphy says, she would honor that. Since they chose statehood, she will honor that choice.
Murphy also pointed out that she doesn’t base her support for statehood on any predictions of how Puerto Rico might vote. “To oppose statehood because you fear that people will not vote the way you want them to vote violates the most basic principles of justice and democracy, and I have zero patience for that.”
Puerto Rico voted for statehood in 2020. “Over 52% of voters answered yes, and the vote was fair and the results were clear,” said Murphy.
Murphy acknowledges that there are other views on the Island. “The views of the minority cannot trump or take precedence over the views of the majority,” she stated. “That would turn the concept of democracy on its head. Votes matter.”
Since Puerto Rico has completed this important act of self-determination, she said, the federal government cannot ignore the results.
“We must respect and respond to this result. To do otherwise would be immoral or undemocratic, beneath the dignity of our great nation.”
Murphy expressed her intention to work with her colleagues in the federal government to determine the best path forward.