puerto rico a U.S. state

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In the United States, the mechanism by which a territory becomes a state is very complex. According to Article IV, Section 3 of the United States Constitution, only Congress has the authority to grant statehood to a territory. Furthermore, the establishment of new states or the separation of existing states necessitates sufficient regulation before continuing (Alexander, 2017). As a result, the ultimate responsibility for deciding whether a given jurisdiction satisfies the criteria for statehood remains with Congress. Puerto Rico is one of the territories that should be turned into a territory as a result of past attempts to incorporate it into the United States. However, there are backdrops that have made this territory not attain this status. It is important to note that Puerto Rico still can become a U.S. state.

Arguments for

Support for Statehood

In a referendum held in 2012, Puerto Ricans voted “No” (52 percent) to maintain their current status whereas 61 percent preferred it becomes a state. However, most individuals argued that the vote had some flaws (Alexander, 2017). It is important to note that there is enough support where the majority is in favor of statehood. On the other hand, the Puerto Ricans living in the United States would fully support the idea of the territory becoming a state and therefore paving more room for the possibility of this territory becoming part of the United States.

A Bigger Population of Puerto Ricans Residing on the Stateside

Reports indicate that the population in Puerto Rico is 3.6 million people. On the other hand, there is a significant number of individuals with Puerto Rican descent in the stateside which reveals that their representation is quite limited. The territory being integrated into the United States means that the Puerto Ricans in the United States will no longer have to pay federal taxes, get a health insurance cover as other residents, and participate in presidential elections (Erman, 2010). Despite not enjoying these privileges, the United States controls essential decisions of Puerto Rico regarding infrastructure, defense, and trade. For this reason, Puerto Rico should become a state.

Improvement in Democracy

Voter turnout is a vital factor in determining democracy of a country as it indicates the level of engagement. Over the years Puerto Rico has recorded higher voter turnout which is not the case for most states in the United States (Wick, 2017). For this reason, this territory becoming a state means that there will be a more engaged population of voter taking part in the presidential elections. Besides, the voting bloc added to the preexisting ones will bring diversity.

Economic Benefits

Statistical indices show that most Puerto Ricans live in poverty leave alone the fact that the country filed for bankruptcy in the previous years. Further, the unemployment rate in Puerto Rico is high, and by integrating it into the United States, the territory will reap economic benefits. The rationale behind this is because Puerto Rico will receive corporate and income taxes which will come a long way in hauling the country from its economic troubles (Planas, 2012). On the other hand, Puerto Rico becoming a state will add more funds raised from tax revenues towards the Internal Revenue Service coffers. Similarly, the agricultural produce from Puerto Rico which include coffee, sweet potatoes, mangoes, cassava, papayas among others will assist in lowering imports from other countries.

Arguments Against

Interference with Ideological support

The practical reason as to why the United States is reluctant in granting Puerto Rico Statehood is due to the fact that they would lean Democratic. This is evident given the voting trends of those Puerto Ricans residing in the stateside. Despite the notion that the position of Puerto Ricans would depend on how the parties in the United States handle the matter, adding this territory to the United States would raise fears among the Republicans. Hence, it should not be granted statehood.

Deterioration of the Economy

The belief that Puerto Rico becoming a state will improve its economic position is false. The citizens of the United States are less likely to invest in this region given that they consider it foreign. On the other hand, the territory will be subjected to taxes as soon as it becomes a state making it worse off than it is currently (Wick, 2017). The primary reason for this is because it has a lower income tax rate compared to the United States and its investment income is exempted from taxation. Hence, it should remain independent if it is to better itself economically.


Granting Puerto Rico statehood seems appealing compared to the territory remaining independent owing to the benefits it will reap from being part of the United States. It is important to note that there is enough support from the Puerto Ricans and proceeding with this initiative will not only improve democracy but also lead to economic benefits. However, there have been arguments that becoming part of the United States will make this territory worse off and might interfere with ideological support. In sum, the arguments for granting Puerto Rico statehood outweigh those which are against and thus it should become a state.


Alexander, H. (2017). Puerto Rico votes to become America’s 51st state. The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 December 2017, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/12/puerto-rico-votes-become-americas-51st-state/

Erman, S. C. (2010). Puerto Rico and the promise of United States citizenship: Struggles around status in a new empire, 1898–1917 (Doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan).

Planas, R. (2012). 5 Reasons Why Puerto Rico Won’t Become The 51st State. HuffPost UK. Retrieved 9 December 2017, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/08/puerto-rico-state-reasons-will-not-become-51st-state_n_2095366.html

Wick, P. (2017). Wrong Way! Why Would Puerto Rico Want to Become a State? | The Daily Bell. Thedailybell.com. Retrieved 9 December 2017, from http://www.thedailybell.com/news-analysis/wrong-way-why-would-puerto-rico-want-to-become-a-state/

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