Posted on June 28, 2018

Puerto Rico Pushes for Statehood, Calling It a Civil Rights Issue

Katie Zezima, MSN, June 27, 2018

Puerto Rico is making its biggest push for statehood in years, filing legislation in Congress that would make the island the 51st state by 2021.

Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R) filed a bill on Wednesday that would pave the way for the island to become a state no later than January 2021. The measure is co-sponsored by 21 Republicans and 14 Democrats and fulfills the promises of González-Colón and Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who campaigned on a statehood platform and said statehood is a civil rights issue for Puerto Ricans.

“No longer do we want ambiguity. No longer do we want this kicked down the road,” Rosselló said at a Capitol Hill news conference. “In Congress you’re either with us or you’re against the people of Puerto Rico.”

The aggressive push for statehood comes less than a year after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria, and residents who feel ignored by the federal government are still in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, wondering if the lights will turn on. The island is also mired in a financial crisis after declaring a form of bankruptcy last year and is under an oversight board based in the United States.


The bill calls for the creation of a task force that would recommend which laws to repeal that put Puerto Rico on a different footing than the states, to find temporary economic measures to help Puerto Rico transition to statehood, propose rules and dates for federal elections and study how statehood would affect the U.S. House.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but cannot vote for president. {snip}

There has been little indication that the bill would pass. Puerto Rico had 3.3 million residents before the hurricane, making its population slightly larger than that of Connecticut, and could give the island seven representatives.