Friday, April 19, 2024

Financial Troubles For Puerto Rico Leads To Dramatic Migration


As the financial crisis continues in Puerto Rico, record breaking numbers of the island’s residents are leaving in order to find better opportunities in the continental United States. Puerto Rico has lost nine percent of its population since 2000. The U.S. Commonwealth’s population accelerated its decline dramatically since 2010, dropping to 3.5 million from 3.8 million in 2004.

The population shift has been so terrible for the island that only one of its 78 municipalities has registered any significant population growth since 2000. Over 40 percent of emigrants suggested that the main reason many Puerto Rican are leaving is economic necessity. The second reason most emigrants cited was family unification which accounted for 39 percent.

With Puerto Rico in the midst of such a major debt crisis and at the risk of defaulting on its massive $73 billion in bonds in the coming week many in congress are hard at work to find a way to help soften the blow for the island. The House has begun work on a bill to assist the commonwealth in restructuring its debt. Also the Supreme Court is preparing to hear a case on how bankruptcy laws may apply for the island.

By federal law, Puerto Rico is not allowed to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy, which is a procedure that is used by many municipalities and states in the United States to restructure their debts. There is a local law that allows the island to restructure its debt which will be the main point of focus and contention that the Supreme Court will hear in the coming weeks.

The great influx of Puerto Rican migration has changed the demographic makeup of many states, but one in particular is Florida. The Sunshine State’s Puerto Rican population have more than doubled since 2000 and now is the place of residence for more than one million Puerto Ricans. As a result of Puerto Rican being U.S. born citizens this has changed the political landscape as well in the state. Even with the fact that Puerto Ricans being U.S. citizens they may only vote in presidential elections if they reside in the continental United States.

The Hill