As our nation commemorated Memorial Day, the families of fallen veterans in Puerto Rico continued living as second-class American citizens, despite the sacrifices of Puerto Rican service members. Puerto Ricans can fight and die under the stars and stripes, but currently cannot vote for the President; their Commander-in-Chief. They have no voting representation in the Senate, and have only one non-voting representative in the House, despite being American citizens for over 100 years.
It is far past time Congress addresses Puerto Rico’s territorial status. The only fair way to do so, while honoring the democratic voices and votes of those residing in the island, is by passing the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act: H.R. 1522 in the House and S. 780 in the Senate.
Puerto Rican voters have gone to the polls three times over the past decade to answer a ballot question regarding their status. Each time, statehood was the only option that garnered a majority of voters’ support.
Statehood for the island would be mutually beneficial, as it would encourage businesses to settle in the island - creating high-paying jobs and optimizing the quality of life of its residents socially and economically. Puerto Rico Statehood is also in America's national security interest.
Hopefully, Senators Cardin and Van Hollen will consider joining their colleague Senator Heinrich and co-sponsor the Puerto Rico statehood bill in the Senate, particularly in honor of those who have fought and died for this country alongside service members from the mainland.