Although it may not have the attention of the recent presidential election, news of Puerto Rico’s plebiscite is making its way around the country. We were struck by a particularly thoughtful post online for a news source from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where very few Puerto Ricans live.
In the comments section of a story about the plebiscite, Lenvil King Jr. wrote:
For 114 years Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States, and since 1917 all Puerto Ricans have been US citizens.
However, with their not being an actual state they are denied some of the most basic RIGHTS guaranteed to us by the Constitution, and the citizens are unable to vote for the President.
Despite the fact they are citizens of this country, just like you or me, only the “fundamental rights” under the federal constitution apply to Puerto Ricans.
Puerto Ricans also have a long history of service in the U.S. armed forces and, since 1917, they have been included in the U.S. compulsory draft whenever it has been in effect.
Though the Puerto Rican government has its own tax laws, its residents are also required to pay most U.S. federal taxes, with the major exception being the federal personal income tax, but only under certain circumstances.Residents of Puerto Rico pay into Social Security just like everyone else does in the US, and are thus eligible for benefits upon retirement. However, they are excluded from the Supplemental Security Income, and the island actually receives a small fraction of the Medicaid funding it would receive if it were a U.S. state.Also, Medicare providers receive less-than-full state-like reimbursements for services rendered to beneficiaries in Puerto Rico, even though the latter paid fully into the system.The Puerto Rican people are citizens of our country *just* like you and I.To deny them the same rights some of us seem to so often take for granted on the simple premise of “We should be a state first” is pure and unadulterated horse hockey.
We in the Upper Peninsula are already in a US State with all the rights and freedoms that come along with that.
These people are paying all the bills, but not getting the benefits.
King, a resident of Michigan, speaks in contrast to the mainland suggestions that Puerto Ricans voted for statehood purely out of greed, that they really want independence (which gained less than 5% of the vote), or that they were too confused to be taken seriously. King continues:
I for one am excited for the thought of the Puerto Ricans stepping up and asking for all the perks of being citizens that they have earned and deserved since 1917.
They are American, just like me, and it will make me proud to see that hard earned 51st star, because the citizens of Puerto Rico have paid for it in sweat and blood.