Latin American Flags MA

The flags of Chile, Uruguay and Puerto Rico were displayed during the Spanish Graduate Association's Hispanic Heritage Month event on Sept. 19 in Trevor Colbourn Hall. 

A Florida congressman is hoping to change Puerto Rico and the U.S. forever by making the territory America's 51st state.

Rep. Darren Soto introduced The Puerto Rico Admissions Act of 2019 on March 28, which, according to the bill, would make the island a state 90 days after the president signs it into law. He said the bill is about respecting democracy and equality in Puerto Rico.

Darren Soto represents Florida's 9th Congressional District, which includes eastern Orlando, Kissimmee and St. Cloud, according to his office's website.

“The Puerto Rican people have spoken," Darren Soto said, according to a press release from March 28. "It's time for Congress to finally make Puerto Rico a state."

Some UCF students oppose the statehood idea.

Aiden Mattei, senior psychology major, said his family members in Puerto Rico fear losing their identities if the island becomes a state.

"They would have to adapt to the way everything is done here, from the language spoken to the education system," Mattei said.

Jacob Soto, junior human communication major, said he believes the national debt in the U.S would increase if Puerto Rico become a state.

Lawmakers are pushing this bill at the same time that President Donald Trump and leaders in Puerto Rico have been disagreeing about the nation's helpfulness in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which hit the island in 2017.

Trump said in a Tuesday tweet last week that the money the United States gave Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria relief was more than any other hurricane relief money ever given by the U.S. 

San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said in a Tuesday tweet that all of the money for the hurricane damage was never actually received.

Jonathan Uriarte, communications director for Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, said Murphy also supports Soto's proposed bill. 

Murphy represents Florida's 7th Congressional District, which includes Seminole County and much of northern Orange County, including downtown Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park and the University of Central Florida, according to her office's website.

"She believes the 3 million U.S. citizens on the island deserve full voting rights and full equality under federal law, which will improve quality of life for the people of Puerto Rico," Uriarte said. 

Uriarte said that she welcomes any bill that is consistent with this principle — including Soto's.

Soto's office did not comment at the time of the publication. 

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