Washington representatives stand up for Puerto Rico

Washington representatives stand up for Puerto Rico

WNPA Olympia News Bureau

OLYMPIA — Washington may become the fourth state to petition the federal government to integrate Puerto Rico into the United States, as a step toward becoming a state.

Currently, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated U.S. territory, the same classification as Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Even though Puerto Ricans have U.S. citizenship and pay taxes to the U.S. government, they are denied some liberties, like the right to vote in U.S. elections or receive certain Social Security benefits. The only U.S. constitutional liberties applied to Puerto Rico are the rights to life, liberty and property.

It is unclear whether the residents of Puerto Rico desire their territory to become a U.S. state.

According to Puerto Rican election reports, 97 percent of Puerto Rican voters supported statehood, but many who opposed statehood boycotted the election, with only 23 percent of citizens participating in the last election.

According to House Joint Memorial 4009’s analysis, incorporating Puerto Rico has no legal ties to statehood, but provides a path for Puerto Rico to follow should it desire to become a state. So far, all incorporated territories have become states, save for one of the islands in the Territory of Hawaii.

According to HJM 4009’s prime sponsor Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, if passed, the petition would essentially function as a “strongly worded memo” to Congress asking them to take action on what is happening in Puerto Rico, and hopefully will restore a level of efficacy to its decision-making process.

“They look at the way D.C. views them and think, ‘why do I even vote, it doesn’t matter what we say, it’s not going to change anything,’” he said. “Puerto Ricans have the right to decide their own political future.”

The memorial has 16 other bipartisan sponsors and was unanimously voted out of committee with a “do pass” recommendation. Tennessee, Illinois, and Florida all have proposed similar requests in their legislatures.

Rose Feliciano, a Seattle resident who has family living in Puerto Rico, testified in support of HJM 4009 in a public hearing. She said the memorial would send a message to Congress that Puerto Rico needs a clear path to statehood.

“While I would personally support Puerto Rico being a state, I know half of my cousins would prefer Puerto Rico being an independent country,” she said. “But they need to have the opportunity to have their voices heard.”

More in News

Firework cakes with prices attached, Elisha Meyer/Port Orchard Independent
Fizzle or boom on fireworks with higher costs?

Fourth of July celebrations in Kitsap County are getting back to pre-pandemic… Continue reading

Downtown Port Orchard. Courtesy Photo
Funding advances for Port Orchard downtown revitalization

The House Appropriations Committee has advanced new funding championed by U.S. Rep.… Continue reading

Suquamish Councilmember Sammy Mabe speaks during the tribe's joint meeting with the city of Poulsbo. Courtesy Photos
Poulsbo, Suquamish officials meet for 1st time since 2020

Tribe suspended relationship following fatal shooting

Applesauce from South Kitsap High lunchroom
Changes in free summer lunch program upset some

A popular food program is making its return to the South Kitsap… Continue reading

Motorcyclists weave through each other during a pre-parade demonstration. Elisha Meyer/Port Orchard Independent Photos
Fathoms parade winners announced

The annual Fathoms O’ Fun Festival returned to the streets of Port… Continue reading

Consumer fireworks are now for sale across Kitsap County, with the exception of Bainbridge Island. (File photo)
It’s official: Fireworks season has begun

Sales started Tuesday; consumer fireworks can only be discharged on Fourth of July

.
Vote for the Best of Central Kitsap

It’s time again to vote for the Best of Central Kitsap! Now… Continue reading

.
Vote for the Best of North Kitsap

It’s time again to vote for the Best of North Kitsap! Now… Continue reading

Most Read