Puerto Rican-American Literature Carrie Tirado Bramen
Unlike other immigrant groups, Puerto Ricans arrive in the United States as citizens. In contrast to Mexicans and Central Americans, whose immigrant experience is largely defined by questions of illegality and fears of deportation, Puerto Ricans have a different relation to the United States, one born out of a colonial history. Claimed as a U.S. possession in the Spanish-American War of 1898, Puerto Rico is neither a sovereign nation nor a state of the Union, but a "commonwealth" (estado libre asociado), its official status since 1952. A Supreme Court decision in 1904 declared Puerto Ricans free to circulate within U.S. territories, creating the longest-standing open border in U.S. history. Three years later, the Jones Act conferred citizenship on Puerto Ricans. Migration from the island to the metropolis has played a formative role in the history and culture not only of Puerto Rico but also of the United States. This is especially true of New York City, with long-established colonias (extended neighborhoods) in the South Bronx, Spanish Harlem, and the Lower East Side. Frequently described as a "revolving door" or "commuter" migration, movement between Puerto Rico and New York has followed a circular pattern of settlement, along the lines of what the playwright Luis Rafael Sánchez has called "to-go-out-again-and- come-back-again" ( Rodríguez de Laguna25).
Puerto Ricans' colonial status as "immigrant-citizens" does raise the question of whether they do indeed constitute an immigrant group. While scholars such as Michael Lapp argue that Puerto Ricans are internal migrants, since they do not emigrate across a national border but instead move from one part of the