AOC Slams Supreme Court for Limiting Puerto Ricans’ Access to Disability Checks
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) on Thursday pushed back against a Supreme Court ruling that limits Puerto Ricans’ access to government benefits, condemning the decision for advancing the United States’ colonialist hold on the territory .
In an 8 to 1 decisionthe Supreme Court ruled that Puerto Ricans do not not constitutional law access the same government disability benefits as people living in the Americas. The ruling dismissed an appeal from a Puerto Rican resident who was sued for $25,000 by the government for receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments when he moved to Puerto Rico.
Ocasio-Cortez, whose family is originally from Puerto Rico, decried the decision. “2022 Imperialist Neo-colony Vibes: when my cousins can be drafted into war by a government they don’t even have the right to vote for and denies them benefits, but that same government can exploit their land in a tax haven for crypto billionaires and tax evaders,” she wrote on Twitter.
She then deflected comments from those who say granting Puerto Rico statehood would solve the problem. “[B]Before people start trying to explain this away as a matter of status/state, ask yourself why *any* US citizen is denied the right to vote because of where they live », she says.
“Even American citizens living abroad have the right to vote, but American citizens in Puerto Rico cannot. It’s colonialism,” she said. concludedadding, “And in DC’s case, racism.”
Like the Puerto Rican defenders did underlinethe Supreme Court decision is the result of a hypocritical decision by President Joe Biden to pursue former President Donald Trump’s argument that residents of the territory should not receive SSI disability benefits. This despite Biden’s statement on the campaign trail that More precisely condemned Trump’s appeal of an earlier ruling that Puerto Ricans were eligible for the program.
“[Biden] could have prevented this and chose not to keep his campaign pledge. Giving responsibility to Congress is no excuse,” wrote Power 4 Puerto Rico, a group of Diaspora allies advocating for Puerto Rican self-determination. “What Puerto Rico needs is for the administration and Congress to stop imposing, looking away from economic obstacles like the Jones Act and the austerity program.” the Jones Law was the 1917 bill that established Puerto Rico as a territory of the United States
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the only dissenter on the Court and the only judge of Puerto Rican descent, wrote in her dissent that the majority opinion “is totally irrational.”
“Congress’s decision to deny U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico a social safety net that it provides to nearly all other U.S. citizens is especially cruel given the urgent need for help these citizens have,” she said. writing. “The equal treatment of citizens must not be left to the vagaries of the political process.”
As Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, Puerto Rico has increasingly been exploited by the wealthy as a tax haven; government officials have incentives placed for wealthy individuals who normally reside in the United States to hide their money in Puerto Rico to avoid taxes. A recent decision to restructure the island’s debt – known as the Adjustment Plan under the Puerto Rico Supervision, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) – will come at the expense of citizens and economic stability, and will mainly benefit foreign capitalists, Truth reported earlier this year.
While some Democrats have pushed for Puerto Rico’s statehood, the New York lawmaker has pushed instead for Puerto Ricans to be able to determine their own path to the island. Last March, Ocasio-Cortez introduced a bill that would create a path to self-determination, calling for the creation of a “status covenant” that would allow Puerto Ricans to decide whether or not they want to become a state. , become independent in the United States or elsewhere.