SAN JUAN, March 14 (Reuters) – Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told Puerto Ricans on Wednesday they would have to make English their primary language if they want to pursue U.S. statehood, a statement at odds with the U.S. Constitution.
Santorum traveled to the U.S. territory to campaign ahead of the island’s Republican primary election scheduled for Sunday, where he, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are vying for 20 delegates.
Puerto Ricans, who recognize both English and Spanish as their official languages, are scheduled to vote in November on a referendum to decide whether they want to pursue statehood or remain a self-governing U.S. commonwealth.
In an interview with El Vocero newspaper, Santorum said he supported Puerto Ricans’ right to self-determination regarding the island’s political status.
“We need to work together and determine what type of relationship we want to develop,” he told the newspaper.
But Santorum said he did not support a state in which English was not the primary 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.”