The City Council in Springfield, Massachusetts, this week unanimously approved a resolution in support of a proposed federal act giving Puerto Ricans a voice in the fate of their island.
The Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act is currently pending in Congress. It would give voters on the island a binding opportunity to vote on independence, statehood or changes to the territory agreement with the U.S.
"If things are not going well on the island, we're certainly going to feel the effects in Springfield," said Springfield City Councilor Orlando Ramos.
Ramos, who in January will begin a term in the Massachusetts House, pointed to the influx of people who left Puerto Rico and came to the city in the aftermath of two devastating hurricanes in 2017.
According Census bureau estimates, around 60,000 Springfield residents identify as being of Puerto Rican descent.
Ramos said Puerto Rico's residents have long been denied a meaningful chance to weigh in on the island's fate.
"Other than giving them the authority to have a binding referendum, there's no other way for them to have a voice in determining what the future of Puerto Rico is going to be," he said.
In the November election, a majority of Puerto Rican voters supported a resolution to advance statehood, but it was nonbinding.