The question of who should be considered a Virgin Islander was a topic of discussion on the Renaissance show on Tuesday, June 13th on WSTA. I am a St. Thomian born and raised. I live in Louisiana now, after having gone to college and living in South Carolina for 16 years. When I went to college, although I was not considered an immigrant, due to my birth certificate from a U.S. territory, I had no voting rights in South Carolina. I did not obtain voting rights until I established my citizenship in S.C. by registering to vote, and obtaining a driver's license and establishing a home address.
I have now lived in Louisiana for 6 years, and until I did the same thing here, I was not able to vote nor did I have a right to, as a Louisianian. These are the laws that govern the United States and it's territories. No matter your personal opinion or feelings on the issue, and no matter what definition we come up with as a people, if it does not adhere to the U.S. Constitution, it will never be recognized by the Federal Government.
Furthermore, if you are not recognized by the Federal Government by way of a SSN or Naturalization #, then you are not considered a U.S. citizen, nor do you have a right to vote. In fact, you are considered an illegal immigrant, and as such, subject to deportation back to your country of origin, if the U.S. Customs Dept. decides you have had enough time to establish citizenship. So, in fact, it is a mute point, and not subject to debate. This is the law that governs us, and regardless of how you may feel personally, that's the way it is. It doesn't matter how much money you make, how much you contribute or don't contribute to your community.
Our way of living in a Democracy says that we establish laws to govern us, and that we vote on these laws. When the laws are passed, then they are enforced by Law Enforcement. This is what makes our country and territories the free domains that they are. We can't go against these laws and principles, so as to not upset some people. If we do, then we open ourselves up to occupation and ultimately, domination by whomever is stronger and has more resources than us (U.S.). In this day and age, that could be anybody from anywhere in this world, and that would our worst nightmare.
I know that we as Virgin Islanders are an amicable and accommodating people, however, there comes a point in every person's life, where they must stand up for what they believe in, and what is right. I believe this is one of those instances. If we as a people want to be recognized as a strong people, and not territory that's dependant on federal governance, then it is with issues like this that we must make a statement.
Baton Rouge, La.
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