WASHINGTON—An internal report leaked by White House aides suggests that President Trump, after meeting with Puerto Rican governor Ricky Roselló, has decided that the Jones Act, which granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship and will mark its one-hundredth anniversary on March 2, ought to be altered in order to maintain control of Puerto Rican ports but revoke citizenship for both the 3.5 million residents of the island and for the 5 million residents living in the U.S. mainland.
One aide said, on condition of anonymity, that Trump had remarked after meeting with Governor Roselló, “I cannot tell you how many properties of mine have declined in value after Puerto Ricans moved in. They are like a plague, terrible music, the worst parade in the city, and their children smell something awful,” and that Puerto Rican families had not been contributing sufficiently to the country. “They take our jobs, fill up the welfare rolls, we are spending millions funding their people and they spend it all on parties and drugs. They haven’t even had a good Miss Universe since the ’90s, pathetic,” President Trump is quoted as saying.
The report, written by Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, also indicates that the change in citizenship status for Puerto Ricans is connected to the administration’s immigration policy reforms. Citing a study that was first featured on Breitbart, Mr. Bannon’s former website, the mass migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States since 2010 has caused considerable financial strain on healthcare systems and the economies of Orlando and Miami, where more than 1 million Puerto Ricans have migrated in the last seven years.
Because Puerto Ricans are citizens and often educated, they demand higher wages and, according to the report, “Are more nefarious than Mexican immigrants, who steal jobs from working class Americans, whereas Puerto Ricans are affecting the business and technology sectors in a way that is devastating to native born Americans, as Puerto Ricans cannot be deported even if they commit crimes.” Eliminating citizenship under the Jones Act would stymie immigration from the island and allow Puerto Ricans who commit crimes to be sent back to the island, saving the U.S. millions of dollars, the report concludes.
While such a change in policy would require congressional approval, White House aides have said that there is considerable support for the move amongst House Republicans, since many believe that Puerto Rico is a part of Mexico, and should be included in the Trump administrations immigration reforms. “The votes are there, with many members of Congress fed up with the dysfunction of the Puerto Rican government,” one aide is quoted as saying, “After 100 years, Puerto Ricans still have not earned their place in American society. It is becoming clearer by the day that they are holding America back from being great again.”
When reached for comment, Governor Roselló clarified that he was unaware of any conflict with President Trump and that he thought the meeting had gone well. “We talked about the financial control board, and the love Puerto Ricans have for the United States. He even smiled when I mentioned that Hamilton was written by a Puerto Rican.” The governor then added, “This is deeply troubling and would be a disaster for the Puerto Rican people.”
Suset Marcantoni contributed to this report.
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