Open Letter to Congresswoman Virginia Brown-Waite
February 1, 2008
Representative Virginia Brown-Waite
United States Congress
414 Cannon House office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congresswoman Brown-Waite:
Like many Puerto Ricans throughout the United States, I am deeply offended by your recent reference to the residents of Puerto Rico as “foreign citizens”. As a native-born Puerto Rican and life-long American citizen, I would like to take this opportunity to help educate you about a segment of American history you seem to disregard.
On March 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act into law. Under the Jones Act, all Puerto Ricans became United States citizens and Puerto Rico became an unincorporated territory of the United States.
Since you are an active member of United States Congress Veteran’s Affairs Committee, I would like to help inform you about the invaluable service Puerto Rican men and women have offered to the United States military in their capacity as American citizens.
During WWI, more than 18,000 Puerto Ricans served our country’s military. During WWII, more than 53,000 Puerto Ricans served our nation’s military. 61,000 Puerto Ricans answered the United States call to arms during the Korean War, and more than 48,000 Puerto Ricans served in Vietnam. Of the 20,000 Hispanics who took part in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, 1,700 were Puerto Rico National Guardsmen. There are thousands of Puerto Ricans serving our nation in the United States Armed Forces – one of whom is my 19 year old granddaughter Erica Diaz in the US Navy.
It is a shame that as a member of the United States Congress, you continue to cling to your misstatement about your fellow Americans, with the simple goal of denying Puerto Ricans the economic stimulus package the rest of America may receive. Puerto Ricans who reside in Puerto Rico do pay Social Security and payroll taxes.
I urge you to reconsider your position to deny an economic stimulus package to Puerto Ricans who reside in Puerto Rico, and hope that you will publicly admit your error and embrace the fact that Puerto Ricans are indeed Americans.
Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz
NEW YORK STATE SENATOR REV. RUBEN DIAZ & ASSEMBLYMAN JOSE RIVERA CALL FOR PRESS CONFERENCE TO REPUDIATE CONGRESSWOMAN’S STATEMENT THAT PUERTO RICANS ARE FOREIGNERS
On Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 12:00 noon on the steps of New York City Hall, New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) and Assemblyman Jose Rivera, both native born Puerto Ricans and life-long American citizens will hold a press conference with Hispanic elected officials to repudiate Congresswoman Brown-Waite’s reference to Puerto Ricans as foreign citizens.
The Governor of Puerto Rico and elected officials throughout the United States have expressed their deep resentment and disgust toward the ignorant comments by the Congresswoman. On Sunday, elected officials from New York, representing one of the largest Puerto Rican communities in the U.S., will also express their dismay and demand an apology.
On March 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act into law. Under the Jones Act, Puerto Rico became an unincorporated territory of the United States and all Puerto Ricans became United States citizens.
For further information, please contact Senator Rev. Diaz at 718/496-4793.