Congressional Hispanic Caucus Leaders Condemn President Trump’s Comments on Puerto Rico

March 27, 2019
Press Release
Members Renew Calls for Comprehensive Recovery Aid

WASHINGTON— Today, Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and Puerto Rico Task Force Co-Chairs Congressman José E. Serrano (NY-15), Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (NY-7), and Congressman Darren Soto (FL-9) responded to President Trump’s reported comments on relief funding for Puerto Rico.


“Over eighteen months ago, Puerto Rico was decimated by Hurricane Maria, which killed thousands of American citizens and devastated communities. When President Trump visited Puerto Rico in October 2017, he claimed ‘victory’ and praised federal agencies for their actions, but in the time since his administration has continuously neglected the island, denigrated the people of Puerto Rico, and obstructed the delivery of desperately needed federal aid. President Trump's statements this week combined with his administration’s actions betray a horrifying truth: this President does not value the lives of American citizens in Puerto Rico and worse yet is actively undermining efforts to help the island's recovery. This appalling behavior is unbecoming of the President's office and is one of the greatest failures of his presidency,” said Chairman Castro. “Disaster assistance should not be dictated by the President’s personal prejudices or the electoral map. The Trump Administration and Congress must step up to this challenge – the people of Puerto Rico are American citizens and our government must provide the federal aid needed for the island to make a full recovery."


“Once again President Trump has shown he could care less about the millions of American citizens in Puerto Rico. Never in the history of this country have we seen a sitting President say outright and out loud that millions of American citizens don’t deserve help, and actively encourage other elected officials to deny them the aid in their time of need,” said Congressman Serrano. “Puerto Ricans deserve adequate and fair levels of funding for nutritional assistance and assistance to continue addressing the island’s needs in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. I urge my colleagues in Congress across the aisle to ignore the President’s comments and step up to help ensure the people of Puerto Rico get the help they need.”


“The President’s remarks as reported in the media have at long last laid bare the central reason for his Administration’s callous response to Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico -- namely that he does not value the lives of millions of American citizens who reside there.  Regardless of what the President says, all Members of Congress – Republicans and Democrats, Senators and House Members alike – have a responsibility to acknowledge and address that there is an ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico,” said Congresswoman Velázquez. “Congress must immediately appropriate additional funding for the Island’s Nutrition Assistance Program and pass the other recovery assistance previously approved by the House of Representatives. Where the President is exhibiting a failure of moral leadership, Members of Congress must step forward and do what is right.”


“During our congressional delegation visit to Puerto Rico last week, we witnessed firsthand the need for additional disaster relief in order to rebuild the island. It is unacceptable that millions of Americans in remote parts of Puerto Rico have yet to receive any of the relief funds that Congress already approved in February 2018,” said Congressman Soto. “President Trump’s comments are disgraceful. We must deploy this relief immediately and treat Puerto Ricans equally.”