Puerto Rico is sending a clear message to congress after the U.S. territory overwhelmingly voted in favor of statehood in a non-binding referendum.
Nearly half a million votes were cast for statehood Sunday, in a move to help the economically-struggling Caribbean island gain more access to federal funds.
Statehood would also allow Puerto Rico the right to vote in U.S. presidential elections.
The island has long been struggling with billions of dollars in debt, a 45 percent poverty rate, underperforming schools and deteriorating pension and health care systems.
Despite the vote, the United States Congress will have the final say on any changes to Puerto Rico’s status within the country.