Opinion: Puerto Rico Statehood

I have been thinking for months that I needed to open write this letter, to every member of Congress. Sadly, I kept putting it off. Perhaps though it was a matter of timing. On March  28, a couple of members of Congress brought my thoughts before Congress. In a comment on a friend’s Facebook post, I stated my opinion. This two-sentence comment was just a few hours before Representative Darren Soto (D-FL), introduced legislation Thursday to make Puerto Rico the nation’s 51st state. His co-sponsor is the shadow member of Congress from Puerto Rico. She is a “shadow member,” because since she is from a U.S. Territory she cannot vote on the floor of Congress. Each territory has a shadow member, they can vote in committees and cosponsor bills, but they cannot cast an actual vote in Congress. Which is part of the crux of the issue! Puerto Rico residents are U. S. Citizens but they have no true representation in Congress.

Furthermore, the residents can vote in presidential primaries, but they cannot vote in Presidential general elections or even Congressional elections. That simply is not right. It is time to stop treating them like an unwanted stepchild and fully admit them as the 51st state, with the full rights of all other U.S. Citizens. They are U.S. Citizens and should be treated as such. The territory should become the 51st state.

They have voted to be admitted. In fact, there have been four votes for statehood. The most recent in June 2017, in which the residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of.  Let’s stop playing around and get our 51st state, without haste.  After that, I believe our other U.S. territories should become states as well. Those other territories are American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Like Puerto Rico, the residents are U.S. Citizens, but cannot vote in the Federal general elections. It is time to make this right. However, we must start with Puerto Rico, without delay, which has voted in favor of becoming a state.

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D. Kevin Surbaugh
1003 9th St
Baldwin City, KS 66006
785-304-4041

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