Approve 51st state
Editorial del Watertown Day News en Nueva York endosando el HR 2000 para la admisión de Pr en la Unión.
Approve 51st state
THURSDAY, MAY 30, 2013
A referendum last November in Puerto Rico is generating new interest in making the island the 51st state in the union. Voters endorsed giving up its status as a territory of the United States, and a majority chose statehood as the alternative.
The results empower Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative to the House of Representatives to propose legislation to require a simple yes-or-no vote on the question, “Do you want Puerto Rico to be a state?” If voters in the territory say yes, the president would be required to submit legislation to Congress, where a simple majority would allow Puerto Rico to become a state.
But in Washington, nothing is ever simple. There is a debate over the meaning of last fall’s referendum. There is grousing that statehood would mean that the Democratic party would be in a stronger position because it is anticipated that Puerto Rico would elect Democrats.
The argument is reminiscent of the debate over admission of Hawaii and Alaska as the 49th and 50th states. Statehood was held up for years in the mid-1950s because of arguments among Republicans, Democrats and southern Democrats. In the mid-50s, Alaska was solidly Democratic. Hawaii began to lean Democratic in the mid-1950s. Republicans joined southern Democrats in opposing admission to the union because southern Democrats feared that more Democrats favoring civil rights legislation would join Republicans to prevent southern Democrats from filibustering against proposals to equalize opportunity for blacks and whites. And Republicans simply did not want any more Democrats in Washington.
The question what the vote meant last fall will be easily settled with a simple yes-or-no referendum.
Whether there are too many Democrats or too many Republicans in Congress is irrelevant. It is hard to fathom that for over 100 years the citizens of Puerto Rico have been treated as second-class citizens, subject to U.S. law without any representation in Washington. Life in Puerto Rico is not without benefit, however. Citizens qualify for Medicare but pay no income taxes to support the program.
Congress should approve the legislation enabling a simple referendum and then proceed to accept the results. The time has come to enable citizens of Puerto Rico to become full-fledged American citizens.
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