Academic journal article Centro Journal

Extending Citizenship to Puerto Rico: Three Traditions of Inclusive Exclusion

Academic journal article Centro Journal

Extending Citizenship to Puerto Rico: Three Traditions of Inclusive Exclusion

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This article examines the legal history of the extension of United States citizenship to Puerto Rico between 1898 and 1940. During this period, Congress enacted a series of laws that extended three different types of citizenship to Puerto Rico, namely a Puerto Rican citizenship, a derivative form of parental or jus sanguinis citizenship, and a statutory form of jus soli or birthright citizenship. This article argues that law and policymakers developed the latter citizenship laws and policies in order to affirm the inclusive exclusion of Puerto Ricans within the nascent U.S. global empire. [Key Words: Puerto Rico, citizenship, jus soli, empire, imperialism, colonialism, Nationality Act of 1940]

the united states developed new territorial and citizenship policies to govern puerto rico and the other territories annexed following the spanish-american war of 1898. The new territorial policy ascribed an unincorporated territorial status on Puerto Rico enabling the U.S. administrative state apparatus to selectively determine when to treat the island as a foreign country for constitutional purposes. For more than a century, the U.S. has treated Puerto Rico as a foreign location for the purposes of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (U.S. Constitution, 14th Amend., cl. 1). Accordingly, some U.S. law and policymakers argue, birth in Puerto Rico is tantamount to birth outside of the U.S. But this view is contradicted by a series of laws enacted by Congress since 1898 which confer three different types of citizenships on the island-born residents of Puerto Rico, namely: 1) a Puerto Rican citizenship conferring a non-alien nationality (1900-present); 2) a naturalized citizenship conferring a parental or derivative form of jus sanguinis citizenship (1906-1940); 3) and a statutory form of jus soli or birthright citizenship (1941-present). However, while these citizenship laws have affirmed the inclusion of Puerto Ricans within the U.S. global empire, U.S. legal actors have consistently excluded Puerto Rican-born citizens from the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment's Citizenship Clause, a precondition for constitutional equality.

Drawing on Ophir, Givoni, and Hanafi's (2009) concept of inclusive exclusion, I argue that the laws extending U.S. citizenship to Puerto Rico have consistently affirmed the inclusion of island-born Puerto Ricans within the U.S. global empire, while simultaneously excluding these citizens from the possibility of acquiring equal constitutional membership within the polity. This article explains the latter argument through an examination of the key legal debates shaping the extension of U.S. citizenship laws to Puerto Rico between 1898 and 1900. Part 1 begins by providing an overview of the precedents shaping the acquisition of U.S. territorial citizenship in 1898. The main objective of this part is to provide the reader with a short outline of the core precedents that served as a backdrop to the debates over the status of Puerto Rico and its inhabitants in 1898. Part 2 examines the key legal debates that shaped the contours of the extension of three types of citizenship to Puerto Rico. More specifically, the article discusses the enactment of citizenship laws and the ensuing legal debates framing the membership status of Puerto Rican-born citizens. This article concludes with a brief outline of the prevailing legal debates over the current status of Puerto Rican-born citizens. My overall goal is to provide a map of the legal history of the extension of citizenship to Puerto Rico in order to open new and more critical avenues for future research on questions that require a clear understanding of the citizenship status of Puerto Ricans.

Part 1: U. S. Territorial Citizenship in 1898

Since its inception, the U.S. simultaneously developed both a colonialist and an imperialist expansionist tradition with corresponding territorial and citizenship policies that incorporated national citizenship laws. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.