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Santorum to Puerto Rico: If you want to be a state, speak English

By David Ferguson
Thursday, March 15, 2012 9:25 EDT
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Rick Santorum in Chillicothe, Ohio
 
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Rick Santorum has traveled to Puerto Rico ahead of the island territory’s Republican primary elections on Sunday and made its citizens what may prove to be a controversial offer, according to the New York Daily News.

In an interview with the San Juan newspaper El Vocero, the 2012 presidential hopeful said that he hoped Puerto Rico would become the 51st state of the United States, but “(a)s in any other state, you have to comply with this and any federal law. And that is that English has to be the main language.”

The former Pennsylvania senator added that while some states, like Hawaii, may have more than one language, the “main language” must be English.

As the Daily News points out, there is no such federal law mandating English as the official language of the United States, although some states have passed their own laws to that effect. The sentiment is expected to rankle some Latino voters who see English-only laws as being pointedly anti-immigrant and, in particular, anti-Hispanic.

The issue of statehood has been a contentious one in Puerto Rican history. The question of whether to become a state or remain a commonwealth comes up to vote on November 6, although the final say will rest with the U.S. Congress. The people of Puerto Rico have voted on the issue before and each time they have decided against statehood.

Santorum has expressed reservations on the subject aside from the issue of language, saying that a simple majority vote in favor of statehood might not be sufficient to bring the measure about. The Senator currently trails former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the race to secure the Puerto Rico’s 23 available delegates.

Romney will arrive on the island Friday to campaign ahead of Sunday’s vote.

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
 
 
 
 
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