For the first time in U.S. history, a bill is being considered in Congress that would make Puerto Rico a state.
"We gather here today to announce the first direct Puerto Rico statehood admissions bill in the history of our nation," U.S. Rep. Darren Soto (R-Kissimmee) said Thursday.
With 3.2 million Americans on the island, Puerto Rico's population is larger than 21 states.
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"In 2017, 97 percent of the people who voted for statehood, so it's time to get this done," said U.S. Rep. Jenniffer González, resident commissioner of Puerto Rico.
Becoming a state was approved in Puerto Rico two years ago, but only 23 percent of voters cast a ballot in that status referendum.
Puerto Ricans who have moved to Central Florida said there are mixed feelings about statehood.
"Everyone in Puerto Rico boycotted the referendum except for mostly the pro-statehood party," activist José Rivera said.
Rivera said blue collar, middle class families are more likely to oppose statehood, but he said more educated people who have spent more time in the states see the benefit of it.
Rep. Darren Soto intro'd the Puerto Rico Admission Act today, which would make the island our 51st state. He & others noted 97% of Puerto Ricans voted for statehood in '17. But that # is deceiving. The reason a PR activist says that election only had a 23% turnout on @WFTV at 6pm pic.twitter.com/7WDsniGJu3— Lauren Seabrook (@LSeabrookWFTV) March 28, 2019
"We have also veterans who have served in the armed forces, and they've seen all the services that are provided within the mainland, so they definitely feel more towards becoming a state," he said.
Rivera said people who moved to the mainland after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island are also divided on the issue.
Some feel disappointed in the island's response. Others are more frustrated by the federal government's response.
"That's definitely created some issues within people's perspective of actually supporting being part of the current political atmosphere within the U.S.," Rivera said.
He said most people want Congress to pass something that would allow Puerto Ricans to vote on it again in hopes of drawing a larger turnout, and they want the results to be final.
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