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Puerto Rico: Statehood Referendum

            S obtained Puerto Rico in 1898 as a result of the Spanish-American War. commonwealth since 1952 and has held U.S. citizenship since 1917(www.puertorico-herald.org). Although Puerto Rico has been American citizens since 1917, they have been denied the full voting rights every other American enjoys. This situation has caused the question of statehood to arise on the behalf of Puerto Rico. Statehood is the condition of being a state, in the case of Puerto Rico; the debate is over whether to make Puerto Rico one of the states of the U.S. The functions of statehood are physical security, economic infrastructure, education and other basic social services. As a state, Puerto Rico would acquire the benefits they should have as a citizen of the U.S. There are many advantages if Puerto Rico is admitted to the union; however, there are also several disadvantages to having a new state. If Puerto Rico is admitted to the union, they will have the 25th highest population of any state and would send six or seven Congressmen to Washington as well as two Senators (www.puertorico-herald.org). Since the House is limited to 435 Members, a state of Puerto Rico would cost at least six states one Congressman each.
             Economic and cultural issues seem to be the two greatest sources of conflict among the parties' supporting the various options. Opponents argue that statehood could lead to assimilation, especially if English is made the official language. This fear was heightened during Congressional debate over a 1998 bill to allow residents to determine their status. An amendment was attached to the bill to make English the official language of the U.S., including Puerto Rico if it chose statehood (www.cga.state). Opponents also believe that statehood will weaken the economy by ending federal tax breaks for capital investment and subjecting residents and businesses to federal taxes. Statehood supporters argue that these tax breaks have not helped in lifting residents from poverty (nearly 60% are below federal poverty levels) and, consequently, most residents would not pay U.

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