Puerto Rico Pushes for Statehood by 2021

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