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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Are Residents of Puerto Rico Citizens of the United States of America?

"Are residents of Puerto Rico citizens of the United States of America?"  asked our caller.  The Newton Falls Public Library staff member was happy to begin the search for this patron's request.

Oxford Reference Online, one of the online databases available to library patrons through our shared Clevnet system, was one of the first places our staff member searched by using the words "Puerto Rico citizenship." One of the suggested links was for the online book The Oxford Companion to United States History  by Paul S. Boyer.  Boyer stated "the Jones Act (1917) . . . extended U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans . . . In 1950 the island won the right to draft and enact its own constitution. The constitution, which became law in 1952, established the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. . ."

Now informed that citizens of Puerto Rico are also citizens of the United States of America, our staff member was curious if there are other places outside of our fifty states where this also applied.  The website lists our territorial and associated state governments as America Samoa, Guam, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Midway Atoll, North Mariana Islands, Palau, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. It also states that the House of  "Representatives has five Delegates(representing the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa,and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), and one Resident Commissioner (representing Puerto Rico)."  "You are a U.S. citizen if you have a birth certificate issued by a U.S. state or territory."

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