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.
Elected officials said making the island a state would help it receive the help it needs and ensure that its residents are no longer treated as second-class citizens by the federal government.
Rep. José E. Serrano (D-N.Y.), who was born in Puerto Rico, said if it is wasn’t clear that “Puerto Rico is in a colonial relationship with the United States, look at what happened after Hurricane Maria . . . they are an afterthought.”
Nearly a year after the storm, millions in federal dollars for reconstruction have yet to be allocated; and many islanders still feel disrespected by President Trump, who during a visit lobbed paper towels into a crowd of survivors like he was shooting a basketball.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Katie Zezima