Para ver este documento
en español, oprima aquí.
THE SAN JUAN STAR
U.S.' State, Justice Say P.R. Remains a Territory
Departments file brief for Lozada citizenship case
by Robert Friedman
February 17, 1999
©Copyright 1999 The San Juan Star
WASHINGTON - In the strongest Clinton administration message
on commonwealth status yet, both the State and Justice departments
have maintained that nothing has changed politically in the U.S.-island
relationship since 1952 and that "Puerto Rico remains a territory"
subject to the full powers of Congress.
"The status of Puerto Rico since the creation of the commonwealth
system is that Puerto Rico's status remains the same," attorneys
for both agencies said in a brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the District of Columbia.
The government attorneys made their argument in a federal court
suit brought by Mayagüez attorney Alberto Lozada Colón,
who is seeking to renounce his U.S. citizenship.
The independentista attorney filed an appeal after a
lower court agreed with the State Department that it does not
have to recognize the renunciation because Lozada Colón
has refused to register as an alien in Puerto Rico.
Lozada claims he has a right to renounce his citizenship and
remain on the island because he had a separate Puerto Rican citizenship
and nationality. Administration attorneys said in the appeals
brief that such a claim is wrong since "for purposes of citizenship
and immigration, Congress determined...that Puerto Rico is part
of the United States."
The brief, filed Jan. 19, came to light recently. Oral argument
on the appeal has been scheduled for March 19.
The State and Justice briefs mentioned the controversial 1907
Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruling on citizenship that was interpreted
by some, including Lozada in his suit, as recognizing a distinct
nationality and citizenship for Puerto Ricans apart from their
But that decision, which upheld the island voting rights of
independentista leader Juan Mari Brás even though
he renounced his U.S. citizenship, "did not deal with the
issue of citizenship in the context of immigration and nationality,"
according to the brief.
"Instead, the holding (opinion) was limited...It explicitly
stated that Puerto Rican citizenship was not national citizenship
like that of a country of an independent state," the government
The attorneys indicated that Congress has always held that
Puerto Rico was granted no new powers under commonwealth.
They noted that the House report accompanying Public Law 600,
which led to the establishment of the commonwealth in 1952, "specifically
states that the bill 'would not change Puerto Rico's fundamental
political, social and economic relationship with the United States.'"
The brief continued: "Although Congress, through the 1950
act, authorized the process for democratically instituting a local
constitutional government in Puerto Rico, Congress retained the
authority to legislate with regard to Puerto Rico."
The attorneys maintained that the courts also have indicated
that, "Puerto Rico's status in relation to the United States
remains the same following the establishment of the commonwealth