CUT THEM LOOSE
A 15-year-old Puerto Rican girl, Enidris Siurano Rodriguez, attending school at Damascus High in Montgomery County, Maryland, is protesting the US policies regarding Puerto Rico by refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance -- or to recite the pledge, obviously. She was been admonished by a teacher, told she was essentially unpatriotic, so she contacted the ACLU, was apologized to by the principal of the school, and now there's a firestorm of support by various Latin artists and others supporting her protest.
Her refusal to stand for the Pledge, while irritating to many Americans, is supported by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The bigger question, and I don't think she's entirely wrong, is -- WHAT IS the real status of Puerto Rico to the United States of America? Puerto Ricans were granted citizenship in 1917, which establishes mostly equal protection under the laws of the United States, but Puerto Rico is still a territory and not a state, so the citizens do not have the right to vote, so they're not really, completely citizens. Ms. Rodriguez, therefore, has the right, under the Constitution, to refuse to stand for the pledge of allegiance.
However, her inelegant reasoning, per the article, makes little sense. She doesn't feel that a government so far away from the island should be able to dictate its internal policies. I haven't checked a map, but I'm pretty sure Hawaii is farther away from the mainland of the United States than Puerto Rico. Hawaii seems to be thriving under US auspices as a state and most of its residents don't seem to currently be unhappy with statehood. Alaska, too, is divided from the main body of the US by another country -- so distance is not the real issue.
It's the half-measures. They're citizens without the right to vote. They're the remnants of an antiquated and unequal colonial political system, culture, language and people whose primary identity has been overlaid by others, but who have not been vigorously assimilated. Puerto Rico as a 51st state would have to become English-speaking, as English is the official language of the United States. Puerto Ricans would not be able to have their own passports; they'd have to have U.S. passports. They would be required to fulfill ALL of the duties of citizens of the United States and they would also be entitled to all of the benefits accorded US citizens for which they are not currently eligible.
On the other hand, cutting Puerto Rico loose as an independent nation might be a better option. That would shut the door on a lot of the illegal activity flooding through our nation under half-citizen benefits by treating Puerto Ricans as citizens of their own country. They can keep their own language, culture and autonomy without the imposition of a familiar but still alien government. We full citizens can shut the door on the flood of back-door immigration and illegal criminal trade that is part and parcel of the current policies regarding our half-citizens. It would simply make us safer as a nation to restrict the open access Puerto Rico currently enjoys.
This will create something of a dilemma for the current generations of Puerto Ricans. They'll have to choose citizenship -- or those currently holding citizenship can hold dual citizenship, while those born after Puerto Rico becomes a nation will be treated as Puerto Rican citizens, with no prior claim to US citizenship.
And either solution will put an end to the peculiar tax-code for Puerto Ricans and the collection of federal funds by and federal payments to persons who are not entitled to vote for the very government that levies those taxes. It seems to me our founding fathers went to war over the very issue of taxation without representation...
It's time to resolve this. Bring 'em in, or cut 'em loose and let Ms. Rodriguez make her choice of where her allegiances lie. There are enough people around the world who want to be U.S. citizens that we don't need to hold someone as reluctant as she obviously is hostage to a political system long past its expiration date.