By: Faizan Haq, Editor-in-Chief
What does it take to make a territory a state of the United States? How long do we need. I am not talking about legalities or constitutional procedure; I’m talking about the moral argument. There is a territory that has been a part of America for over a century. The people there are told they are Americans. They are asked to defend the country. They pay some taxes. But they still don’t have representation in Congress or Senate. Why is that?
Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States of America for 119 years. The majority of the islands residents have voted for statehood. Yet, they are denied full participation in the government of the country that has colonized them and then claimed that locals are their equals.
For us to move forward in a world where territories are being divided on ethnic, lingual, and religious bases, it is a blessing that we have a people who cross all boundaries, and want to be part of the United States. Their sacrifices are no less, and perhaps even more, than those of others.
Is it because statehood for Puerto Rico would introduce two new Senators, five new Representatives and seven electoral college votes all that could change the balance of power? Are we really excluding over three million people from full statehood because we don’t like the way we think their elected representatives would vote?
There were times when our top leadership was eager and willing to expand the United States beyond its borders. Often they did not accomplish this by war, but by trade, purchases and diplomacy. These territories, such as Polynesia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are crying out for such leadership, which will fully incorporate them into the constitutional structure of the United States. At this time it can only be done by launching a unprecedented political movement involving the citizens of these areas and building a mounting public pressure that gets their voices heard in the corridors of power. Is there a champion out there in the Senate or Congress of the United States, or among the 50 Governors of the states or other countless elected representatives who will hear them and take this challenge on? Is anyone out there?