Things That Matter

Puerto Rico Is Planning To Vote On U.S. Statehood Once Again And Here’s Why So Many Are Against The Idea

Puerto Rican’s are no stranger to referendums. Since 1967, they’ve had five chances to make their opinions known on U.S. statehood and each and every time, their voice hasn’t been listened to. Congress has failed to take up the issue after each referendum and local leaders are often guilty of using the referendum simply to drudge up support for their candidates.

But this upcoming referendum is different in that it comes at a crossroads for Puerto Rican politics. The island has been plagued by natural disasters, political scandals, and unprecedented hate crimes. Even Bad Bunny is letting his thoughts out on the referendum and many others have lots to say on the issue.

For the first time in the island’s history, the referendum will ask a single question: Should Puerto Rico be immediately admitted as a U.S. state?

On Saturday, Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood Republican governor, Wanda Vázquez, announced yet another vote on the question (the sixth since 1967 and the third since 2012). It’s a move that comes amid growing frustration with the island’s territorial government and its relationship with the mainland.

However, it’s a question that also outraged the island’s independence supporters and members of the main opposition Popular Democratic Party – which supports the status quo.

But it’s a gamble that members of the governor’s pro-statehood party are confident will pay off given that Puerto Rico has struggled to obtain federal funds for hurricanes Irma and Maria, a string of recent strong earthquakes and the coronavirus pandemic amid growing complaints that the island does not receive fair and equal treatment.

“Our people will have the opportunity once and for all to define our future,” Vázquez said. “It’s never too late to be treated as equals.”

The upcoming referendum is just the recent in a long line of previously failed ones.

In the past, voters have been asked more than one question and presented with various options, including independence or continuing with the current territorial status – but none of them have ever been as direct as the upcoming one scheduled for the November 3 general election.

However, many on the island see the referendum as little more than a political move by the governor’s New Progressive Party to get voters out on Nov 3 – to boost her party’s candidates.

The New Progressive Party has been rattled with scandal after scandal and many are ready for change.

The past few years have not been good for the party – or the island for that matter. A string of devastating hurricanes, a severe debt crisis, ongoing corruption scandals that even forced a pro-statehood governor to resign, earthquakes, and now a global pandemic – have all led to challenging times in Puerto Rico. To some observers, the idea seems to be: Let’s dangle the illusion of a yes or no statehood referendum (nonbinding) that is already dead on arrival?

Many also feel that Gov. Vasquez is not truly authorized to make such a decision since she was never actually elected to the office. Instead, she became governor after Ricardo Rosselló was forced to resign following massive protests.

Meanwhile, the Republican government on the island doesn’t even have the support of the Republican-led federal government. The Trump administration’s blunt response was basically, “The first priority for all Puerto Rico leaders should be getting their financial house in order.”

This coming November, there will be plenty of incentive to vote “no” and punish the Vázquez administration. Even prominent figures such as Bad Bunny are jumping into the fray against her leadership.

What would statehood mean for Puerto Rico?

Statehood would award Puerto Rico two senators and five representatives, but it’s unlikely a Republican-controlled Congress would acknowledge the referendum because Puerto Rico tends to favor Democrats.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections. And while the island is exempt from the U.S. federal income tax, it still pays Social Security and Medicare and local taxes and receives less federal funding than U.S. states. Many believe the island’s territorial status has contributed to its struggle to recover from the hurricanes and earthquakes, as well as worsened its economic crisis, largely caused by decades of heavy borrowing and the elimination of federal tax incentives.

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Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

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Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

During the 2020 election, Latinos were a massive electoral voting bloc. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbered the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are now 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. 

And, Latinos helped deliver the presidency to Joe Biden. So it can be expected that the community has high expectations for Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises of immigration reform.

During a recent speech about his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden outlined his priorities once he’s sworn in on January 20th, and said he would “immediately” send an immigration bill to congress.

Joe Biden promises swift action on immigration reform as soon as he takes office.

Over the weekend, President-Elect Joe Biden promised he would take swift action when it comes to immigration reform and rolling back many of the cruel and dangerous policies put into place by the Trump administration.

“I will introduce an immigration bill immediately,” he said in a news conference on Friday.

Although he didn’t go into detail regarding the proposed legislation, he’s previously committed to ending Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, and that he wants a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and an increase in guest worker permits to help bring undocumented agricultural workers – many of whom are now considered “essential workers” – out of the shadows.

Biden had already promised an immigration overhaul within the first 100 days of his presidency but this commitment definitely increases the pressure on him and congress to get things done.

Biden also said his justice department will investigate the policy of child separation.

During the same press conference, Biden said that his Justice Department will determine responsibility for the family separation program, which led to more than 2,600 children being taken from caregivers after crossing the U.S. southern border, and whether it was criminal.

“There will be a thorough, thorough investigation of who is responsible, and whether or not the responsibility is criminal,” Biden said. That determination will be made by his attorney general-designate, Merrick Garland, he added.

During the campaign, Biden finally took responsibility for many of his administration’s immigration failures.

Nicknamed the “Deporter in Chief,” Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history with over 3 million deportations during his time in office. 

But as part of that administration, Joe Biden is also complicit. That’s why during the campaign he seemed to acknowledge at least some of the pain the duo caused.

“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” Biden’s immigration plan reads. 

While Obama’s methods pale in comparison to the cruel tactics like family separation, inhumane conditions, and targeted raids, the impact the deportations have had on families is cannot be quantified.

Biden, like any Vice President, is put in the position of having to defend his president, but also himself as the future president. This isn’t a bad thing, Biden must distinguish himself from his predecessor but if the shadow of Obama’s legacy is buying him goodwill, it might be difficult to undermine that administration’s stances.

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Latino Congressman Lou Correa Fights Back at Insurrectionist Trump Supporters Who Harassed Him at a D.C. Airport

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Latino Congressman Lou Correa Fights Back at Insurrectionist Trump Supporters Who Harassed Him at a D.C. Airport

Photo via screenshot

As the nation still struggles to come to grip with the horrific events that took place at the Capitol on last Wednesday, the aftermath of the debacle threatens to be just as horrifying as the event itself.

Videos are still continuing to pop up of unhinged far-right Trump supporters making public spectacles of themselves. But one such video became viral when the target of their hate refused to lie back and take it.

Recently, a video went viral of Democratic California Congressman Lou Correa being harassed by a crowd of Trump supporters right after the storming of the Capitol.

The incident took place at the Washington Dulles International Airport right outside of D.C. Based on the location and the timing, its safe to assume that these enraged Trump supporters were part of the insurrectionist mob that stormed the Capitol.

In the video, we see Rep. Correa defend himself against an irate mob who is getting in his face and hurling vitriolic insults at him.

Videos if the confrontation were posted by various right-wing social media pages, ostensibly trying to “expose” Correa for standing up for himself.

The video begins with various Trump supporters raving to Correa about “communist China” and “antifa”. When Correa explains that he was in Washington, D.C. to defend democracy, one of the Trump supporters tells him that the U.S. “isn’t a democracy, it’s a republic.”

The video then shows a large, deep-voiced many getting in Correa’s face and bellowing “Who are you?” and calling Correa a “F–ker”. Off screen, another man yells at Correa: “Nobody here voted for you. We don’t want you,” to which Correa responds: “That’s okay! 70% of people in my district did.”

In the face of such hatred, Correa held his own, refusing to be cowed by a group of bullies who recently showed themselves to be no better than terrorists.

In various interviews since the video went viral, Correa described the events that led up to the incident.

Correa told The OC Register that he had had roughly 15 minutes of sleep the night before after having stay up late to ratify the electoral votes after the process was interrupted by an angry mob.

He says he turned the corner to head towards his gate when the angry Trump-supporters recognized him as a lawmaker. “They picked me out, and boy, they came at me,” he told CNN.

Correa added that he was “surprised” at how “brazen” the hecklers were.

“They started lobbing all kinds of statements and just getting in my face, and I wouldn’t back off,” he said to the Register. “It was a situation where they were amped up and I have no idea why they came at me. Then I was surrounded by them and I stood my ground.”

But Correa, who was born in East LA and spent much of his youth in Mexico, says that he wasn’t intimidated by the bullies.

In the same interview with the Register, Correa described himself as from “the hood” and said that he is used to having angry citizens confront him for one reason or another. But this incident was unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

“I’ve never seen our nation so divided,” he said. “I’m OK with people coming up and expressing their anger and what have you. It’s another thing when people go out of their way to surround you and go after you.”

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