Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles I favor statehood for Puerto Rico. The people of Puerto Rico should have the right to determine their own political future. When the people of Puerto Rico make a clear decision my administration will stand by you. It may seem that US politicians support Puerto Rico's right to decide its future and would even welcome Porto Rico as a US state, but their words have yet to turn into action. This might not be surprising considering that when Hurricane Maria hit the island, 46% of Americans didn't know Puerto Ricans are American citizens. But they are. More Americans call Puerto Rico home than 21 US states, but being a US citizen in Puerto Rico is not the same as being a US citizen stateside. Puerto Rico is an American Commonwealth and one of five inhabited US territories. The island became a US territory when Spain conceded colonial control after it lost the Spanish-American war. The federal government gave Puerto Ricans American citizenship, their own Legislative Assembly, and governor. Like other American citizens Puerto Ricans can serve in the US military and are subject to drafts. And like other American citizens Puerto Ricans also pay most federal taxes. But unlike other citizens who face taxation, Puerto Ricans don't have federal representation. The island gets to send one politician to Congress to advocate on behalf of its residents, but they don't have a vote. This means Puerto Ricans can't vote on issues that affect the island such as limited funding for Medicaid or food stamps, as well as a broader economic policy. And while Puerto Ricans on the island can vote in the presidential primaries, they can't vote for the president. Puerto Ricans have voted several times on their status and referendums. Early on an ample majority of Puerto Ricans supported a Commonwealth over statehood or independence. You don't want to be a state and you don't want to be independent, you just want to go on living in the middle. In the middle, no. In the Commonwealth. Puerto Ricans today are divided on the status of the island. The latest referendum shows large support for statehood, but the turnout was historically low. But no matter what polls and votes show, referendum results are non-binding, because Puerto Rico can't become a state without approval from Congress and Congress has largely ignored Puerto Rico's status, but as the island struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria the issue is becoming harder to ignore. Puerto Rico's economy started tanking when Congress phased out tax incentives designed to attract investment to the island. Paired with fiscal mismanagement, the island's debt started to grow. To reverse Puerto Rico's financial decline, a board appointed by Congress imposed harsh austerity measures that reduced health and education spending on the island. As opportunities lessen, Puerto Ricans are relocating to mainland US. The population is shrinking on the island and their political influence stateside is growing. Once permanently living in a US state Puerto Ricans can actually impact federal politics. Puerto Rican statehood advocates want five House Representatives and two Senators in Congress, while Commonwealth supporters are fighting for increased parity without sacrificing their national identity. But despite political efforts, it seems that Puerto Rico will continue to belong to the u.s. without really having much of a say.