The United States acquired the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1917. This group of islands has been a U.S. territory ever since. The island of St. Croix is home to businesses like management consulting firm Cane Bay Partners. As with Puerto Rico, the United States has never made the Virgin Islands a state. Residents of U.S. territories find both advantages in disadvantages with the arrangement.
One advantage is that the residents are considered citizens, although they do not enjoy all the rights and privileges of citizens. Residents of the Virgin Islands can visit the mainland United States, Alaska, and Hawaii without needing a passport. They can get jobs in any of the states and move there without a work visa. Residents of the Islands pay federal taxes, but those taxes go directly to the Virgin Islands.
Voting and Representation
However, they cannot vote in the general election, although they are allowed to vote in the primaries. Their only representation in Congress is a delegate, not an actual representative or senator. The delegate can vote in Congressional committees. Interestingly, once a resident of the Islands moves to one of the states, this person becomes eligible to vote in the general election.
Economics, Military, and Justice
The United States also has some motivation to promote economic development in its territories, which can be helpful to the residents. In case of impending invasion by an enemy nation, the military is expected to respond as though this is a threat against the United States. Territory residents can be part of the U.S. armed forces. In addition, residents can seek justice in the U.S. judicial system and they also are eligible for various federal programs.
A Major Disadvantage
One major disadvantage that island residents have discovered is the lower level of response when natural disasters occur. The federal government tends to pay more attention to states when a crisis like a severe hurricane hits land. Residents of the Virgin Islands had to deal with that situation in 2017 when Hurricane Maria struck and caused serious destruction. Cane Bay Cares, the charitable arm of Cane Bay Partners, took action by providing many necessary supplies and generating funds.