Press Releases

CONGRESSWOMAN STACEY PLASKETT SENDS LETTER TO THE VI LEGISLATURE URGING A DISCUSSION ON THE VIRGIN ISLANDS POLITICAL STATUS WITH THE UNITED STATES

Washington, March 27, 2019

CONGRESSWOMAN STACEY PLASKETT SENDS LETTER TO THE VI LEGISLATURE URGING A DISCUSSION ON THE VIRGIN ISLANDS POLITICAL STATUS WITH THE UNITED STATES

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett (USVI), released the following statement regarding her letter to Senate President Kenneth L. Gittens regarding starting a dialogue with the people of the Virgin Islands in regards to the political status of the Territory:

“Recently I sent a letter (attached) to Senate President Kenneth L. Gittens and Joint Board of Elections Chairman Arturo Watlington in reference to starting a dialogue with the people of the Virgin Islands as to the political status of the Territory. With Transfer Day approaching it is time to recognize the considerable progress our Virgin Islands have made through our history under Danish Rule and with the United States of America. Through the arts, sports, politics, military service, and intellectual discourse, the Virgin Islands of the United States continue to contribute to the rich fabric of the United States while keeping our unique Caribbean history and culture.

“Americans have seen and Virgin Islanders (and others living in the territories feel) the impact of limited electoral participation.  For example, federal legislation often has unintended consequences to the territories or are passed with deficiencies in treatment to the territories and residents of the territories serve in the armed forces in disproportional numbers but cannot vote for their Commander in Chief.  I am pleased to announce that an Amendment to create a Congressional Task Force on Territorial Voting Rights that my office proposed with the support of the territorial members on both sides of the aisle (along with many of our colleagues) has been incorporated into H.R. 1 which passed the U.S. House of Representatives. With such an amendment being accepted to such an important bill I think it is time the Virgin Islands begin a structured discourse related to the ways we here in the Territory can discuss our political status with the United States.”

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Please see video which explains my Amendment to HR 1.

The Honorable Kenneth L. Gittens

                    Senate President             

33rd Legislature of the Virgin Islands

46 King Street

Christiansted, VI 00820

Dear Senate President Gittens:

On June 28th of last year, I sent a letter to Senate President Myron Jackson and Joint Board of Elections Chair Arturo Watlington to ask what. if any, mechanisms are being utilized to obtain the meaningful position of the people of the Virgin Islands as to the political status of the territory.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the For the People Act of 2019 (H.R. I which contained provisions to advance the issue of voting rights of U.S. citizens in the territories. Under the bill, Congress finds that residents of the territories have played an important part in the American democracy for more than 120 years; that political participation and the right to vote are among the highest concerns of territorial residents, in part because they were not always afforded these rights; that voting participation in the territories consistently ranks higher than many mainland communities; and that the right to vote is one of the most powerful instruments that residents of the territories have to ensure that their voices are heard. Accordingly, the bill would establish a Congressional Task Force on Voting Rights of United States Citizen Residents of Territories of the United States. The Task Force would gather findings and issue a report to Congress with recommendations to address the disenfranchisement of Americans in the territories.

Meanwhile, cases have been progressing in the federal courts to decide whether the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment extends birthright citizenship to those born in unincorporated territory of the United States. Certainly, the voting power of Americans in the Virgin Islands, along with the other territories, is linked in part to the political status of the islands as unincorporated territory of the United States.

With such movement on the federal level, I would like to reiterate my request that the government of the Virgin Islands begin structured education and discourse related to a mechanism to obtain the meaningful consent of the Virgin Islands to its political status, and an eventual referendum on the issue of status within the United States. I am more than willing to use my position in Washington, DC to support this process.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to your reply.

Stacey E. Plaskett
Member of Congress