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Puerto Rico: 51st State?

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Photo courtesy of medium.com

Photo courtesy of medium.com

 Imagine being considered a United States citizen, yet your basic rights are denied, including the right to vote in a presidential election. Such is the case of those inhabiting the island of Puerto Rico.

   At the conclusion of the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico officially became a U.S. territory. Currently, under the Jones Act of 1917, those born on the island are considered United States residents, yet this citizenship remains limited. Residents are unable to vote in a presidential election and are only granted one non-voting congressional representative, prompting many to advocate for its updated status to statehood. In fact, according to CNN, “Puerto Ricans voted overwhelmingly for statehood during a nonbinding weekend referendum.”

  Proponents of this action argue that the addition of a 51st state would benefit not only Puerto Ricans, but also those living in the already-established United States. Such a statement proves true, as the U.S. would garner an increase in tax revenue.

  According to the magazine the Odyssey, “as a state, Puerto Rico would be required to pay federal taxes, just as every other state does. This would result in an increase in revenue for the Federal Reserve each year.” Such an upsurge, estimated as an additional $2.3 billion, in federal income taxes would propel the United States further into economic expansion. Moreover, citizens living on the island would reap advantages as well.

  If recognized as a state, those residing in Puerto Rico would be granted improved employment opportunities, in addition to an increased quality of healthcare. Presently, 11.5 percent of residents are without work, while 46 percent live below the poverty line, cites the Odyssey.

  In regards to healthcare, The New York Times explains another conflict plaguing Puerto Ricans: the island is lacking in medicine, while the abundance of patients continues to rise following Hurricane Maria. Statehood would allow Puerto Rico to accumulate an increase in funding, relieving it of the current healthcare crisis.

  Many opposed to this addition to the United States argue that with the admittance of Puerto Rico, the U.S., in regards to statistics, would have an escalation in unemployment, crime, and poverty. Nevertheless, as a state, Puerto Rico would receive increased aid to alleviate these issues, and ultimately such data would inevitably be lowered.

  Puerto Rico, as a state, would receive the same benefits granted to the rest of the nation. Such rights include voting, which would allow these residents to have a voice, something currently prohibited, and ultimately improve their quality of living.  While the issue may appear controversial, the admittance of Puerto Rico will not only benefit the United States financially but will also relieve those inhabiting the island of the hardships they currently face.

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Puerto Rico: 51st State?