A Mr. Sir post…
I cannot convey the disappointment I feel at the perception of others as to whether or not I’m a United States citizen; most times, I just want to cry. It is with this thought in mind that I write this quick educational PSA. I understand that not everyone has this knowledge and, if you don’t know about the subject, it is a plus if you just admit it. But it is not ok to assume that Puerto Rico is an untouched jungle paradise, where we still forage for food and ride around on horses. And no, you cannot drive to Puerto Rico from Tennessee, Louisiana, Florida, or any of the 50 states (please refer to the this image if this is still confusing).
My best friend and I recently visited an antique shop (I’ll withhold the name, to protect those involved), to see what kind of cool stuff they had. Lots of cool stuff, but none that either of us could afford, so we decided to head out after a few minutes. Just as we began to head out, we were stopped by a clerk in the store:
Clerk: “Excuse me, I noticed that you had an accent, what were you speaking?”
My friend/I: “Oh, that was Spanish, we’re from Puerto Rico.”
Clerk: “Puerto Rico, huh? I must admit, I don’t know much about Puerto Rico. I know I could probably Google it, but I haven’t had a reason to.”. To his credit, he did say that he didn’t know very much about Puerto Rico and its citizens. I give him a plus for that.
Me: “I appreciate you saying that; most people just assume that I’m a foreigner. But I am indeed a citizen.”
My friend: “No, we’re not part of the 50 states. We cannot vote for the president, but he still is our president.”
Me: “And yes, we are citizens, for real! You know the citizens of Guam and the US Virgin Islands? They’re US citizens too.”
Clerk: “Oh, I didn’t know that! So do you, uhmmm, have passports as well? Is Puerto Rico, well, like the US?”
My friend: “Well, yeah;” came the incredulous reply, “we are citizens of the United States!”
Clerk: “That’s cool, you guys gave some great ideas for a vacation!”
Well, somebody left work a little smarter than he was when he checked in… For the confused or uneducated (on this matter, that is), here is a list of 5 quick points to convince you that I am indeed a citizen of the United States:
1. Puerto Rico is a US territory; has been since 1898 (yeah, shocking, right?). After being in the hands of Spain for over 400 years, the island was invaded and then ceded to the US.
2. Any person born within the United States, including ALL her territories (pardon the gender assumption there), is automatically granted US citizenship. It’s called birthright citizenship, check it out.
3. As a citizen of Puerto Rico, and citing points #1 and #2, I am a US citizen.
4. As a US citizen, I am able to acquire a passport (you know, the little blue booklets that tell folks of other countries that you are a US citizen). Yeah, shocking, I know, but I’ll repeat in case you missed it the first time; as Puerto Ricans, we do have US passports.
5. As points #s 1-4 imply, I also am eligible to work in the US. And study. And live too. WITHOUT a visa. I am a citizen of the US, and not an illegal alien. Or any alien of any kind. I CANNOT be deported, because I am home.
I hope this clears things up some, and for the love of God, please don’t make Mr. Sir cry!