September 04, 2015

Horse 1973 - Puerto Rican "Immigrants"
How do you choose a favorite muppet? Actor Sonia Manzano, who has played Maria on Sesame Street for more than 40 years, has some thoughts. Manzano, who recently announced she would not appear on the show’s next season, sat down with PBS NewsHour’s chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown to talk about her path to Sesame Street.
In her new memoir, “Becoming Maria,” Manzano talks about growing up in the South Bronx as the daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants. 
- PBS News Hour, 26th Aug 2015.
My Olympic dream began when I was a kid growing up in the Bronx. It was already a struggle – my parents were Puerto Rican immigrants with little money trying to get by supporting five children.
- John Orozco, Fox News, 5th Aug 2015.
The advice in "Making the Case" is consistent: value your voice and advocate for yourself. Make the case for your career, your relationships, your health, and crucially, for those who are not able to advocate for themselves.
Kimberly practices what she preaches: a child of Irish and Puerto Rican immigrants, she has risen from working at a deli counter in high school, to law school, to deputy district attorney in Los Angeles, to juggling legal analyst positions on three major networks at four times slots each day.
- Forbes, 24th Jun 2015.

When I see the phrase "Puerto Rican immigrants" in American media, it makes me wonder just how ignorant the writer is. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is an unincorporated U.S. territory and all of its citizens are natural-born citizens of the United States just like anyone born in any of the 50 U.S. states¹. Just like any other are natural-born citizen of the United States Puerto Ricans can vote and run for office in any U.S. jurisdiction in which they are residents; provided they leave Puerto Rico.

As Puerto Rico is not a U.S. state it doesn't have a Senator but it does send a member to the U.S. House of Representatives, it's just that they don't have any voting rights on the floor of the chamber.
Puerto Rico is one of those strange things at U.S. law where the constitution only partially applies inasmuch as the courts have ruled that it does apply. In matters of taxation for instance, residents of Puerto Rico are subject to some U.S. Federal Taxes and pay into things like Social Security but Income Tax is levied by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico rather than the United States.

The really weird thing is that even though almost three years ago, the people of Puerto Rico voted in favour of U.S. Statehood because the Congress is Republican-dominated, nothing has been done with their wishes; probably due to Puerto Rico's mainly Democratic leanings. If Puerto Rico were to become the 51st state, with its 3.7 million people it would have 29th biggest population in the union and probably be entitled to 5 Representatives as well as its 2 Senators. Republicans would hate that.
Puerto Rico's status as a United States' possession was established in 1898; so it's not like Congress has only just recently had this thing to think about.
Just to muddy the waters, Puerto Rico competes at the Olympic Games but the IOC also allows weird things like the British Virgin Islands and Guam to compete and they aren't nations either.

Puerto Rico is about 1000km away from mainland Florida and in the middle of a long chain of Caribbean islands which are part of "Not America" but Hawaii is more than 3800km from the mainland, has 2.3 million less people than Puerto Rico and yet Hawaii was given statehood in 1959 and one of its native born citizens is currently President of the United States. No-one from Hawaii is considered as an "immigrant" if they move to the mainland.

I can't even begin to describe how insanely weird I think that this is. The nearest equivalent that I can think of would be like saying that someone from Norfolk Island (which also doesn't send Senators to the Australian parliament) would be an immigrant to Australia if they moved to the mainland. Norfolk Island has also achieved self government and individuals also don't pay income tax to the federal government but Norfolk Islanders are Australian citizens and to think otherwise is ludicrous.

How you can call someone who is a full citizen of a country an "immigrant" when they move from one part to another, irrespective of the preposterous legal status of that territory, is beyond me. Surely such a thing is more properly termed considered internal migration, not immigration. Naturally this brings me to the rather obvious question of "why call them 'Puerto Rican immigrants' when they're not actually immigrants?" To that end, I don't have any logical answer.

Is this some sort ignorance on the part of news agencies who simply haven't bothered to do the research? I mean it's not like the people of Puerto Rico being given U.S. Citizenship is a new phenomenon. They've had 98 years to have been informed of this. Not even the slowest postal service in the world takes that long.
Is this a case of the news agencies deliberately misreporting truth because they think that their audiences are too stupid to know the difference? Fox News which trades upon the prejudices of its audience might be able to get away with that but can PBS which is supposed to be more neutral?
Is this some hitherto unknown convention that I don't know about because I'm an Australian? Given America's projection of itself in world media, I don't understand why it would want to give the impression to the world that it's just plain dumb.

The phrase "Puerto Rican immigrants" is both incorrect and dare I say it downright insulting to people who are full U.S Citizens and have been for almost a century. I can only think that the media companies feign ignorance here but for what purpose, I do not know.

¹Puerto Rican citizens have been full United States' citizens since 1917 under Section 5 of the Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act of 1917.

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