Select Page

USVI committee argues federal policies infringe on civil rights

by | Jun 17, 2024 | Federal Government, Status, United States Virgin Islands | 0 comments

A local United States Virgin Islands (USVI) committee shared a report to the US Commission on Civil Rights, arguing the unfair rights given to the USVI compared to the mainland United States.

The Commission, which is “an independent, bipartisan agency charged with monitoring federal civil rights enforcement,” investigates civil rights violations and issues nationally, and communicates with Congress and the president. While each state has an advisory committee to the Commission, the U.S. territories, including the Virgin Islands, could only open advisories in 2022. 

The report by the USVI committee detailed the unfair treatment of USVI residents by the federal government, adding how residents were sometimes not fully protected by the Constitution. 

For example, the committee argued in the report that residents are governed by the Constitution, but do not have a say in electing the president, writing, “In the case of the US Virgin Islands, the people do not even have a vote in the election of the national legislature, nor do they vote for the executive. This reality represents the worst-case scenario as imagined by James Madison in 1787.” 

The committee also pointed to how the US does not return tax gained from goods manufactured in the USVI, writing  “The United States has NEVER returned ANY tax it has collected on the petroleum products produced in the US Virgin Islands and sold in the United States.” 

Refined petroleum products are one of the major exports of the USVI. According to OEC, “In 2023 the top exports of US Virgin Islands were Light petroleum distillates ($2.02B), Petroleum spirit for motor vehicles ($1.19B), Petroleum oils, oils from bituminous minerals,… ($177M)…”

Additionally, Congress deemed the US Virgin Islands outside the US Customs Zone, complicating traveling for residents, who are legally citizens but are not being treated as such. Additionally, this rule is not imposed on all territories, as Puerto Rico is treated as part of the US Customs Zone. 

The committee aims for this report to spark legislative change that will close the disparity in civil rights between USVI residents and other US citizens.



Ellie Keum

Ellie Keum

Ellie Keum is a 16 year old girl who lives in New Jersey and is a sophomore at The Hotchkiss School, a boarding school in Lakeville, Connecticut. Ellie enjoys all forms of writing including poetry and creative prose, but focuses mostly on writing newspaper articles for various media outlets, especially those geared towards news and opinion. Her writing advocates for Asian and SWANA youth through literature, encourages female entrepreneurship, and covers current events. In her free time, she immerses herself in different languages, and has taken substantial time to build a strong foundation in Spanish, French, Latin, and German. She also loves playing hockey and hanging out with her friends. Ellie is a Federal Affairs Intern Correspondent at Pasquines.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.