Poll: Nearly half in US unaware that Puerto Ricans are citizens

Nearly half of all Americans aren’t aware that Puerto Ricans are citizens, according to a new Morning Consult poll.

The U.S. territory’s natural-born residents have been American citizens since 1917. Puerto Rico has been under control of the United States since 1898.

Puerto Rico’s status has received fresh attention over the last week as Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, leaving nearly all its 3.5 million residents without power and in many cases with no way to communicate with the outside world.

{mosads}While 54 percent of Americans know that Puerto Ricans are citizens, 47 percent do not know that, according to the poll, which was first reported by The New York Times. Among Americans with a bachelor’s degree, 72 percent are aware of citizenship for people on the island.

The poll found a connection between knowledge of Puerto Ricans’ citizenship and a willingness to send emergency aid.

According to the report, 8 in 10 Americans who know Puerto Ricans are citizens support sending aid, while among those who do not know, 4 in 10 support sending aid.

Respondents also expressed their support for aid differently if they were first informed that Puerto Ricans are American citizens.

Among those polled without being informed of citizenship status, 64 percent said the United States should send aid. Another group of respondents were informed of Puerto Ricans’ American citizenship before being asked about aid; 68 percent of those respondents favored sending aid.

Puerto Ricans have all the same rights as U.S. citizens on the mainland, although U.S. citizens living in a territory cannot vote for president. Territories do send representatives to Congress, but they are non-voting, and each territory only gets one representative. 

That means Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-P.R.) has the largest constituency of any member of the House, representing about 3.5 million people.


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