Among Puerto Ricans reasons for becoming a state would be the fact that the territory is in massive need of federal support and funds, with a massive growing debt of 70 billion dollars and a lower GDP per capita than any of the states. This economic situation has been a decades long crisis, and Puerto Rico wants funds to help solve this ongoing problem. With statehood Puerto Rico would get an additional 10 billion dollars in federal funds and the state could file for bankruptcy, which currently isn’t allowed. In addition Puerto Ricans would also be able to vote in United States elections, and have more representation in the federal government. So that’s why Puerto Ricans would want statehood, but why would they want independence (1)?
The short answer; more opportunity.
The independence of Puerto Rico has been a long lived movement that hasn’t died out in the slightest, but why would Puerto Ricans want independence? The answer is quite plain and obvious; to have economic freedom and more control over their territory. If Puerto Rico was independent its colonial status would go away and it could declare bankruptcy, which could help its economy get out of its current financial state. In addition to this Puerto Rico would have more freedom over itself with the United States laws not being in place. Puerto Rico could decide its foreign policy, immigration laws, trading, and other political positions without consent of the United States, and in doing so Puerto Rico would have complete political freedom.
One big issue that the Puerto Ricans have to overcome to get the approval of Congress is to convince the Republican held congress that Puerto Rico is indeed a swing state, and not just a solid blue state. This is difficult knowing that Puerto Rico is widely hispanic, and that ethnic group votes heavily democrat. Puerto Rico Governor Ricky Russell has insisted that Puerto Rico would be a swing state because its socially conservative and because when Puerto Ricans don’t like something, they flip (2).
Update: Referendum Results
On June 11th Puerto Rico voted to become the 51st US State by a decisive margin. An enormous 97% of Puerto Rican voters favored statehood, but the turnout of the vote was a dismal 23%. The future for Puerto Rico remains unclear with the referendum not being binding. The governor will however put the "Tennessee Plan" into action, which means he (the governor) will choose two seantors and five representatives to go to the nations capital to argue on the behalf of Puerto Rico becoming a state. Additionally President Trump indicated on the campaign trail that he was open for Puerto Rico's statehood. It seems that Puerto Rico's quest for statehood could finally come to a cheerful ending due to the openness of the President and the latest referendum result (3).