Santorum to Puerto Rico: No English, No Statehood

Federal law requires English to be principal language, he claims

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 15, 2012 1:39 AM CDT | Updated Mar 15, 2012 4:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – Rick Santorum arrived in Puerto Rico yesterday looking presidential, wearing a suit instead of a sweater vest, and with a Secret Service entourage in tow—but it went wrong after he opened his mouth, reports the New York Times. Asked about the territory's hottest topic, a referendum on statehood this November, the candidate said he supported Puerto Rican's right to self-determination, but added that the mainly Spanish-speaking island would first have to adopt English as its principal language.

"Like any other state, there has to be compliance with this and any other federal law," Santorum said. "And that is that English has to be the principal language. There are other states with more than one language, such as Hawaii, but to be a state of the United States, English has to be the principal language." In fact, there is no federal law designating English as America's official language, and there is no requirement for a territory to adopt English as its principal language to become a state, Reuters notes. The island, whose 3.7 million residents can't vote in presidential elections, holds its Republican primary on Sunday, and 20 delegates are at stake.

Rick Santorum  visits La Fortaleza, the governors mansion in San Juan, to meet with Governor Luis Fortuno  yesterday.
Rick Santorum visits La Fortaleza, the governors mansion in San Juan, to meet with Governor Luis Fortuno yesterday.   (Getty Images)
Rick Santorum talks with reporters after meeting with    Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno in San Juan yesterday.
Rick Santorum talks with reporters after meeting with Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno in San Juan yesterday.   (AP Photo/Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo)
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