The U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico (PR) have much to gain and little to lose with becoming a state. It’s no wonder why many are asking time and time again for Statehood. On the island there are two opposing political parties that contribute to the perplexity on the issue, adding confusion to islanders' total support.
The currently dominant New Progressive Party, or PNP, favors statehood. Its main rival, the Popular Democratic Party, or PPD, advocates continuing as a commonwealth with enhanced self-governance. Presently there are two bills before congress, each to address the conflicting stance.
H.R. 1522 bill Statehood Admission Act
H.R.2070 bill Self Determination Act (Delegates would be responsible for finding a permanent solution for the island’s territorial status)
Having Puerto Rico join the nation as the 51st state would bring Democrats (2) additional Senators and six (6) additional Representatives.
Statehood would complete the full rights and benefits package of American citizenship:
- Equality under federal programs and services
- Equal Security Rights and Benefits
- Participation in income tax and tax credits
- Permanent status
- Puerto Rico would still keep its constitution and laws
- Continue with the US Currency
- Keep US citizenship born in PR
- Remain bilingual
- Subject to Corporate taxes that would help fund highways, hospitals and health programs.
On the one hand the bonus from the above benefits allows for better economic growth and investor security. Additionally, citizenship and the resulting improvement in the quality of life on island would likely slow migration. Currently young people leave the island to come to the mainland for job opportunities, which are scarce in Puerto Rico.
On the other hand, a minority of Puerto Ricans fear losing their identity, culture, and language if Puerto Rico were to become the 51st state. Whatever the view, it should be the people of Puerto Rico's choice. As President Biden has said:
"The people of Puerto Rico have an inalienable right to choose their political destiny and the United States’ government must respect and act on that choice."