Being under the US territory for many years, Puerto Rico is fully protected and supported by the US government, but this does not mean that Puerto Ricans have all of the same rights as stateside residents of the US. Things, such as the right to vote and other benefits, are not given to Puerto Ricans, but they are allowed to fight in the US military and can also own lands in the US. So, why not just make Puerto Rico a US state? Let us take a look at the pros and cons that go with it.
List of Pros of Puerto Rico Becoming a State
1. It allows for an improved quality of life.
Nearly half of all people in Puerto Rico are living under the poverty line, and its integration as a full state would bring job opportunities and a wealth of benefits to a country that desperately needs it.
2. It helps the US greatly in terms of economics.
According to records, Puerto Rico is costing the US over USD22 billion a year, but as a state, it can contribute nearly USD2 billion to the US Treasury every year.
3. It offers more opportunities for Puerto Ricans.
As previously mentioned, a high percentage of Puerto Ricans are living below the poverty level, but this would not be the case if their country’s statehood goes into effect. This means that all residents would get access to job and income creation benefits that could make a difference. Moreover, they can integrate into the US national economy, allowing to pull themselves out of the hardships they are experiencing.
4. It engenders a political sway.
With over 4 million people, Puerto Rico can have an impressive 9 electoral votes in elections and would have 7 house representatives and 2 senators representing them on current issues, causing a large shift in political control.
5. It can improve Puerto Rico’s government system.
Currently, Puerto Ricans do not exercise sovereignty over their own affairs. While they have a state government and allowed to elect a governor like all other states, the US Congress would be the one controlling Puerto Rico’s destiny.
6. It allows Puerto Ricans to have a say in the government and laws that affect them.
Though the US Congress has the final say of everything that would go on in Puerto Rico, it is not possible for its citizens to vote in US elections, which means that statutes and laws that apply to them are not things they can vote on. If the statehood were to happen, then Puerto Ricans can finally vote on laws that would apply to them.
7. It implements the right to vote.
Statutes and laws that are passed in the US would be applied to the people in Puerto Rico, but they are not given the chance to vote on certain issues. By making Puerto Rico a state, it would give all its citizens the right to vote on the things that would impact them.
8. It boosts tax revenue for the US.
Adding the country to the state roster of the US would bring in a huge amount of extra revenue each year for the Federal Reserve, of which money would be brought in through income taxes and sales.
9. It improves health care for Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico’s current health care system is sub-par to say the least, where citizens do not have the same laws and regulations for health care that are done in the US. Making it a state would greatly improve such a system and give Puerto Ricans access to government medicine.
10. It allows for open trade.
With the statehood, Puerto Rico would enter into an open trade market with all of the alliances of the US, which can greatly stimulate its economy, and in turn, the US’s.
List of Cons of Puerto Rico Becoming a State
1. It leads to culture loss.
Many people are concerned that the rich Puerto Rican culture would eventually be lost when Puerto Rico is integrated to the US. The country’s Spanish language, along with other cultural aspects, would likely be replaced by English. Also, Puerto Ricans are concerned that they will lose their heritage if they become a state and will not be recognized as an individual nation in the Olympics or world beauty pageants, which they have won several times.
2. It can hurt other Puerto Ricans’ feeling of remaining an independent country.
Time and time again, people in Puerto Rico have continuously vote for remaining a separate territory from the US, but does not stop those people who are calling for statehood. Many questions involve issues on citizen’s rights and independence. There is not a single way to look at this statehood, but it is possible to delve deeper into the most relevant issues with regards to this topic.
3. It causes loss of tourism.
Tourism is the biggest source of revenue for Puerto Rico, and if it were to become a state, then its novelty would wear off. The country would no longer be considered an exotic destination, causing it to lose a huge amount of money.
4. It can bring about a language barrier.
Though English is mandatory in public schools in Puerto Rico, it is taught as a foreign language, where students are rarely receiving more than 50 minutes of English instruction each day.
5. It raises poverty and crime rates of the US.
The unemployment, poverty and crime rates are unbelievably high in Puerto Rico, and the country’s integration to the US would cause these statistics to be part of the US’s numbers.
6. It makes Puerto Rico obliged to pay federal income tax.
If Puerto Rico were to become a state, it citizens would no longer be exempt from the federal income tax, forcing more people into the public dole due to the effects of increased taxes on a struggling economy.
7. It might cause some kind of resentment to the US.
For some reason the statehood would have a negative impact on Puerto Rico’s standard of living or economy, then resentment may develop, which can be dangerous for Puerto Ricans.
There is a lot of considerations to make when coming up with an opinion on making Puerto Rico a US state, but one of the key elements that we should keep in mind is that the majority of Puerto Ricans support statehood at all. But based on the pros and cons listed above, do you it would help, or not?
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.