July 13th, 2009
09:18 AM ET

Sotomayor as American as mango pie

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/09/sotomayor.impact/art.sotomayor.gi.jpg caption="Judge Sonia Sotomayor"]
Angelo Falcón
Special to CNN

The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States has raised the profile of Puerto Ricans in the American consciousness.

Her identification as a Puerto Rican has caused Judge Sotomayor both joy and a little grief during this stormy nomination process. But, being a Puerto Rican who also grew up in New York City, well, I can say that's par for the course for most of us.

Despite Puerto Rico being a possession of the United States since 1898, most Americans know very little about the island and Puerto Ricans - except for tourism commercials. Many consider Puerto Ricans living in the United States outside of Puerto Rico (I called these "Stateside Puerto Ricans") another new immigrant group of Latinos.

But the reality is that we can trace Puerto Rican settlements in New Orleans to the 1860s and workers from Puerto Rico migrated to Hawaii around 1900. In 1917, through an act of the United States Congress (the Jones Act), the people of Puerto Rico were made United States citizens, enabling them to come to the United States freely and legally without passport or visa.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
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