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Prominent Scholars and Jurists Weigh In on 100 Years of U.S. Citizenship for Puerto Ricans

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NEW YORK, NY – October 12, 2015 – (HISPANICIZE WIRE) – Amidst the fiscal crisis facing the island of Puerto Rico, academics and jurists will come together on October 15th and 16th to discuss the impact of the Jones Act on Puerto Ricans’ U.S. citizenship and the island’s long-standing relationship with the United States this law established. During two days, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Centro) at Hunter/CUNY will host more than twenty scholars to discuss and debate the implications for Puerto Ricans of the Jones Act, the law that extended U.S. citizenship to the people of Puerto Rico effective in March 1917.

The conference has been organized in anticipation of the centennial of the Jones Act. The collective naturalization provision of the Jones Act set the stage for the complex interrelationship between U.S. and Puerto Rico that holds particular relevance in today’s environment, where the island faces a dire economic crisis that affects the life of 3.5 million U.S. citizens, as well as the more than 5 million Puerto Ricans who reside in the fifty states of the Union.

“This conference comes at a crucial time in the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States, punctuated by a critical fiscal crisis on the island and a large exodus of Puerto Ricans from all walks of life for the United States. The roots of the current situation are framed by the Jones Act,” said Centro’s director, Dr. Edwin Meléndez.

The symposium opens on October 15th at the Silberman School of Social Work (2180 Third Avenue) and will continue on Friday, October 16, 2015. Keynote addresses will be delivered by the Honorable Judge Juan R. Torruella of the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday, and by Rogers Smith, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean for the Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania on Friday. Judge Torruella will speak on the illusory U.S. citizenship status of Puerto Ricans while Professor Smith will address the unresolved constitutional issues of Puerto Rican citizenship.

Additionally, another twenty scholars will discuss how the U.S. citizenship the Jones Act extended to Puerto Ricans compares to that of native-born citizens as well as the residents of other U.S. territories; how it marked the manner in which Puerto Ricans were incorporated in the United States as they emigrated from the island and the political and social repercussions of those actions. “This is an opportunity for all those interested in the subject to gain first-hand knowledge from top scholars in their respective fields, whether it is the law, political science, history and other fields of knowledge,” added Meléndez.

The event is free and open to the public, but to guarantee your space, those interested in participating should RSVP http://bit.ly/1LodWhT.

A complete schedule of addresses and panels, along biographies of the participants, is now available http://bit.ly/1KQPfXU.

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