Friday, May 29, 2009

Are persons born in Puerto Rico U.S. Citizens?

Photo used under Creative Commons from Oquendo

The nomination of current 2nd Court of Appeals Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who if confirmed would be the first Latina on the U.S. Supreme Court, made news the other day. She has an interesting life story, including the fact that her parents were born in Puerto Rico (she was born in New York). This raised the question, are persons born in Puerto Rico U.S. Citizens? The answer is almost always "yes".

In 1898, after the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded the island of Puerto Rico to the United States. In 1917, after a series of different governmental systems, Congress made Puerto Rico an “organized but unincorporated” territory of the United States and granted U.S. citizenship to the people of Puerto Rico. The current status of Puerto Rico is fairly complicated and depending on who you ask, the term "territory" may not be proper. You can read more about the history and current political status of the island in the 2007 Report by the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status. The only exceptions to the citizenship rule would be persons born in Puerto Rico before 1917 or other special cases such as children born to diplomats.

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