The myth about Puerto Rican statehood that won't go away
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This week marks the 103-year anniversary of the enactment of the Jones-Shafroth Act - a law providing Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship.

In practice this means that 3.4 million of our fellow citizens have been denied a democratic form of government for more than a century and are voiceless in Washington even though they pay federal taxes and have served in every major U.S. military engagement since World War I.

This solemn anniversary should compel Washington lawmakers to act.


Unfortunately, some of my fellow Republicans oppose statehood because they are convinced that it will result in a huge political windfall for the Democratic Party in the U.S. Congress.

I disagree.

For proof, it’s worth remembering what political pundits and the chattering class said about President TrumpDonald John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE in 2016: Latinos will simply not vote for a candidate who talks openly about securing the border and deportation. But by the time election results surfaced, President-elect Trump had performed better with Latinos than Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDemocrats broaden probe into firing of State Department watchdog Coronavirus and America's economic miracle Former Romney strategist joins anti-Trump Lincoln Project MORE in 2012, capturing close to 30 percent of the vote.

Writing it off as a fluke, the same political class predicted that Latino support for President Trump would wane once he was in office. But just like last time, they were wrong.

Today recent polling reveals that President Trump is likely to win anywhere between 25-30 percent of the Latino vote in this November’s presidential election. And with a historic-low Latino unemployment rate and the presidential campaign’s planning a significant investment in Latino outreach, it is entirely plausible to imagine President Trump winning 35 percent of the vote.


The point here is that Latino voting patterns are not predictable.

Puerto Rico is no different.

For starters, Jenniffer Gonzalez-ColonJenniffer Aydin Gonzalez ColonThe myth about Puerto Rican statehood that won't go away Chef José Andrés activates charity to serve meals in Puerto Rico after earthquake House passes temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans MORE, the current Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico and the lone representative from the territory to the U.S. Congress is a member of the Republican Party. It is reasonable to conclude that she would assume one of the island’s two seats in the U.S. Senate.

Additionally, it’s worth remembering that Puerto Ricans are typically more social conservatives than Democrats in the mainland with one poll finding that Puerto Rican voters in Florida support traditional marriage. Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. territory have been known to vote for Republicans in years past, including former Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño.

Politics aside, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle should support statehood because the people of Puerto Rico want it. Just a few years ago, an overwhelming majority of Puerto Rican citizens voted for statehood. With nearly all of the precincts reporting, 97 percent of the ballots cast were in favor of statehood.

The good news is that more and more Republicans and conservatives are realizing that it is wrong to oppose Puerto Rican statehood based on the myth that it will result in a political windfall for the Democratic Party.

They include lawmakers like Florida Republican Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSchumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe Trump administration designates B of PPP funds for community lenders The Memo: Trump's Scarborough tweets unsettle his allies MORE and Rick Scott who have expressed support for Puerto Rican statehood. And just a couple of years ago, nearly two dozen Republican House members co-sponsored Puerto Rican statehood legislation including Reps. Joe WilsonAddison (Joe) Graves WilsonTrump campaign launches new fundraising program with House Republicans The myth about Puerto Rican statehood that won't go away Overnight Defense: Republicans sound alarm on Taliban deal | Trump speaks with Taliban leader | 19 states sue over border wall funding | Pentagon pushes back on NY Times report about coronavirus response MORE (S.C.), Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersBipartisan senators call for investigation of TikTok's child privacy policies Hillicon Valley: Facebook permanently shifting thousands of jobs to remote work | Congressional action on driverless cars hits speed bump during pandemic | Republicans grill TikTok over data privacy concerns Top Commerce Republicans grill TikTok parent company MORE (Wash.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikBipartisan House bill seeks to improve pandemic preparedness The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now; Teva's Brendan O'Grady says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like Strategic Oil Reserve House GOP to launch China probes beyond COVID-19 MORE (N.Y.).

It’s time other Republicans on Capitol Hill join them. The party of Lincoln should reject the notion that our ideas have limited appeal. Let’s instead look at Puerto Rican statehood as an opportunity to grow our conservative movement. And in the process, we can support federalism, democratic government and self-governance.

Ivan Garcia-Hidalgo is a Republican consultant and the host and executive producer of Battleground, and La Politica on Americano TV.