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Velázquez & Ocasio-Cortez on Justice Department’s Decision to Uphold Constitutionality of Law Denying SSI to Puerto Rico

June 8, 2021

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) released the following joint statement in response to the White House's announcement that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will file a brief in the case United States v. Vaello-Madero to uphold the constitutionality of the current law, which excludes Puerto Ricans from receiving the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit.

"We are deeply disappointed by DOJ's decision to support the constitutionality of a law that clearly delegates Puerto Ricans to a second-class status in the United States. When it comes to ensuring parity in federal benefits for the territories, this is a missed opportunity to do right by the people of Puerto Rico.

"We are, however, encouraged by President Biden's support of Congress passing legislation to extend SSI and other federal benefits to Puerto Rico. We call on the President and our fellow members of Congress to support the Territorial Equity Act, which would provide overdue access to federal benefits including SSI, Medicaid, SNAP, and popular tax credits to residents of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories. The denial of these benefits for so long has allowed residents of the territories to fall behind, we cannot afford to wait any longer to fix this injustice."

Issues:Puerto Rico