March 18th, 2012
11:55 AM ET

Poll: Should English be the preferred language spoken in Puerto Rico?

In the days leading up to the Puerto Rican Republican primary, English language comments by Rick Santorum created controversy and may be the reason for losing all 20 delegates to Mitt Romney.

In an interview with El Vocero newspaper Santorum said he did not support a state in which English was not the primary language. "As in any other state, (Puerto Rico) should comply with this and every other federal law and that is that English must be the primary language."

The specific federal law that Santorum was referring to is unclear. There are no federal laws, which require English as the primary spoken language for statehood. And the U.S. Constitution does not designate an official language.

In an interview with CNN Santorum defended his position, "obviously Spanish is going to be spoken here on the island, but this needs to be a bilingual country and not just a Spanish speaking country. It's essential for children in America to speak English to fully integrate and have full opportunity."

Santorum is correct that Spanish is by far the most commonly spoken language in Puerto Rico, but English and Spanish are already the official languages.

A referendum on whether to pursue statehood or remain a self-governing U.S. commonwealth will be on the November 6 ballot.

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