NAACP Endorses Bill To Make Puerto Rico 51st U.S. State By 2021

by Bamidele Ogunberu Last updated on March 28th, 2019,

San Antonio, Texas, USA: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, the nation’s foremost civil rights organization, adopted an emergency resolution strongly supporting statehood for Puerto Rico and the passage of the Puerto Rico Admissions Act (HR 6246) in the 115th U.S. Congress.

The resolution was adopted on Tuesday at the 109th Annual NAACP Convention taking place in San Antonio, Texas from July 14th to 18th.

While the people of Puerto Rico are already American citizens, especially in light of the inequities they are facing, the NAACP reaffirmed its strong support for full statehood of Puerto Rico by 2021 at the NAACP Convention.

Under that bill, Puerto Rico would be integrated as an incorporated territory of the United States until its full acceptance as a state in 2021.

According to the resolution, “the Puerto Rican Admission Act in a major step towards realizing the democratic will of the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico by setting forth a transition process that would result in the formal admission of Puerto Rico as a state of the United States, on an equal footing and in true permanent union with the other states in all respects, effective no later than January 1st, 2021.”

The resolution was approved after Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló (D) addressed the group, calling statehood a “civil rights issue” and Puerto Rico’s current territorial status “colonialism.”

In a 2017 referendum in Puerto Rico, 97 percent of voters chose statehood over independence or the status quo. But that referendum was boycotted by opposition parties, so only 23 percent of the electorate showed up to vote.

The debate over Puerto Rico’s status heated up in 2016, after the Supreme Court decided that the United States and Puerto Rico cannot successively try the same person for the same crime.

That decision fudged the distinction between Puerto Rico’s commonwealth status, adopted in 1952, and territories fully under control of the federal government, as established in the U.S. Constitution.

Still, specific distinctions remain: Puerto Ricans do not vote in federal elections or pay federal income tax, and the island sends a non-voting resident commissioner to Congress for four-year terms.

Rosselló told the NAACP convention that the lack of statehood is an “injustice that damages” the more than four million U.S. citizens in the territories of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa.

“The US citizens of Puerto Rico cannot vote for our President and our Commander In Chief. We cannot vote for a voting member of Congress. We don’t have equal rights…” Governor Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico said at the 109th Annual NAACP Convention

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.

The NAACP Annual Conference consists of a series of seminars, committee meetings, workshops, exhibits, and panel discussions by the organization’s leadership; civil rights and faith leaders; as well as media, youth, and political influencers.

The NAACP Annual Convention is taking place July 14-18 in San Antonio, Texas and brings together activists, artists, and entertainers, as well as civil rights and social justice leaders.

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