Puerto Rico is once again vying to be the 51st state of the U.S. The new bill was introduced by Puerto Rico’s sole non-voting member of Congress, Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón. If the bill is passed by the House and moves on to the Senate, the historical law would bring to a close a 128-year mess that dates back to the Spanish-American War, which resulted in the acquisition of the Island by the U.S.
“The Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act places us on the path towards the political equality we deserve,” González-Colón tweeted. “By requiring a Statehood Yes-or-No vote on the Island, this legislation follows the same precedent established for Alaska and Hawaii. #PR51st.”
The Puerto Rican community is definitely deserving of every right that Americans have on the main Island. While Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, the people of PR still cannot vote in U.S. elections, and they have always faced a lack of provisions from the U.S. government because the Island is a territory and not a state. For proof of that, one needs to look no further than the disastrous way the Trump Administration handled Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Estuve junto a @RepJenniffer en la presentación del proyecto histórico de #estadidad. Ha llegado la hora que los puertorriqueños logremos la igualdad.
I joined @Jenniffer2012 in the presentation of this historic #statehood bill. It is time that Puerto Ricans achieve equality. https://t.co/AfqMwXwHMJ pic.twitter.com/n97FuhRPat
— Zoraida Fonalledas (@ZoriFonalledas) October 30, 2019
While some may assume that the bill would be agreed upon by all Puerto Ricans, that has not been the case. This kind of proposal, that would move to make Puerto Rico a state and not a territory, has been attempted several times before.
However, because there has never been a consensus, it has never passed. Some, including González-Colón, feel this time it could be different, mainly because Democrats have control of the House.
Florida Rep. Donna E. Shalala said that she supports the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act. She tweeted, “I support the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act because the right to self-determination lies at the very heart of American democracy. The Puerto Rican people deserve to exercise that right by holding a plebiscite on the question of statehood for their Island. #PR51st.”
— Jenniffer González (@Jenniffer2012) October 30, 2019
There’s still many that are skeptical about this latest move because, as Vox pointed out, “even if the referendum shows overwhelming support for Puerto Rico, it’s unclear what comes after that. Just getting enough support for a federally funded ballot measure could be a challenge. Right now, the bill only has 46 co-sponsors in the House — far from a majority.”
Others are still hopeful that Puerto Ricans will want to be a part of the U.S. “Now is the time,” González-Colón said in a statement when she introduced the bill in Congress. “The catastrophe left behind by Hurricanes Irma and María unmasked the reality of the unequal treatment of the American living in Puerto Rico.”