Not Many Americans Know That Puerto Ricans Are Americans Too


Maria “will essentially devastate most of the island,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said earlier this week. He described the federal emergency response ahead of the storm as “phenomenal,” adding that he hoped the rest of the U.S. would stand up for the island after the storm. “After Irma, the people of Puerto Rico stood up and helped others,” he said, according to USA Today. “We’ve done our part. But it’s likely we’re going to need a lot of help, a lot of collaboration, after this storm.” Fewer than half of Americans, however, even realize that Puerto Ricans are American citizens.


In June, Puerto Rican voters endorsed becoming the 51st state. The referendum was non-binding, and the low turnout (combined with the politically implausible requirement for Washington to agree) made this vote more a statement than an action. Before the vote, however, some of the most patriotic utterances we’ve heard came from the island. With its economy in shambles, Puerto Ricans wanted the access to federal aid available to states, yes. But they also wanted to share the entire American experience, with rights and responsibilities that go with it. They want to vote for president. They understand they would be obliged to pay federal income tax, which they now do not pay, and they’re willing to do that, too.

Puerto Ricans are US citizens, but many Americans didn’t know that. Watch this video below.


Puerto Ricans and US Virgin Islanders are American citizens by birth, pay taxes and are overrepresented in the military. Still, coverage of these territories is often reduced to natural disasters like Irma, Carnival in St. Thomas and Puerto Rico’s financial crisis. Even during hurricanes, the plight of these islands is often overshadowed by events in Florida, Cuba, Haiti or the Dominican Republic.

8 Misconceptions about Puerto Rico. Watch this video below.


Here is more from twitter on this story.

The residents of Puerto Rico are American citizens. They are not half-citizens, immigrants or naturalized citizens. They are born as Americans and, with a few exceptions of mostly governmental procedural nature, they share the same status as all of us on the mainland. And these Americans need our help, just as the Americans in Texas, Florida, Louisiana and other hurricane-ravaged regions do. Hurricane Maria has wrecked Puerto Rico in ways hard to imagine. Power is out on the entire island. Coming on the heels of Hurricane Irma, it has left a trail of destruction that will take months and possibly years to fix entirely.



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