On Sunday 97% of voters in Puerto Rico expressed support for the island becoming a state.
The referendum was non-binding, and the United State Congress would have to pass a bill to change Puerto Rico's status from a territory to a state.
As a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico has some of the same rights as states, but not others. For example, the island has its own constitution and governor and does not pay most federal taxes. Puerto Ricans do contribute to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, in which they can also participate. They cannot vote in presidential elections and do not have voting representatives in Congress.
Supporters of making Puerto Rico a state argue that Puerto Ricans deserve the same rights as all other U.S. citizens. Adding Puerto Rico as a state could also increase tax revenue.
Opponents of making Puerto Rico a state note that the territory has massive debt. Statehood could make the U.S. government responsible for resolving some of that debt. Other opponents question the validity of Sunday's referendum result, noting that only 23% of voters turned out to vote, with some opposition parties organizing boycotts.
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