With Texas considering secession, Puerto Rico’s lack of statehood becomes even more ironic
Over the weekend, Texas Republicans gathered in Houston for the annual Texas GOP Convention. Members voted on a variety of issues they wish to include in the official party platform. Among these, was a proposal to vote on seceding from the United States as early as 2023. Secession, as unlikely and unconstitutional as it may be, is becoming a more prevalent talking point in the Lone Star State. Compare this to the US Territory of Puerto Rico, and the irony of its predicament becomes clearer. The islands voted in favor of statehood several times, yet Congress has so far refused to comply. While Puerto Ricans fight in our wars, they go without the right to vote in federal elections. While Puerto Ricans pay many federal taxes, they lack voting representation in Congress. Texas would be irate.
For centuries, the title “US Citizen” has been a coveted status for people across the globe. The term is synonymous with freedom and opportunity—the right to prosper. Statehood is inherent in this right, without it you lose critical protections. Puerto Ricans find themselves in a citizenship gray area, granted some rights, denied others. Yet even in this painful predicament, Puerto Ricans remain steadfast in their commitment to America. In sharp contrast to Texas, Puerto Rican Republicans are advocating for inclusion as a state, not exclusion from the United States.
All things considered, this issue transcends politics. This is an issue of expanding the notion of “We the People” to all American citizens. To form a more perfect union, we must expand what is in the union. Reject seditionist rhetoric, and embrace the idea of political representation for all. When we deny statehood based upon outdated concepts of what should qualify as a state, we deny equal rights to American citizens. This is wrong. Each President since Gerald Ford has supported Puerto Rican statehood, and so should Congress. Americans of all persuasions can unite around this cause, yes—even the Texas GOP.
Puerto Rican statehood finds itself in a Shakespearian dilemma of whether “to be or not to be.” Though what we must understand is the wishes of Puerto Ricans should prevail. Yet again, in 2020, Puerto Ricans voted in a non-binding resolution for statehood. Yet again, Congress has made vague commitments to the islands, commitments which rarely translate into action. So call your representatives, and urge them to make incorporation a reality. Refusing to grant Puerto Rico statehood is not just ironic, it is deplorable.