Bryan Administration Supports Calls for End to Insular Cases

WASHINGTON, DC– A senior representative from the Bryan administration is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to end the classification of residents of U.S. territories as second-class citizens. 

Teri Helenese, Director of State and Federal Relations for the Virgin Islands government, made her position clear when speaking at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol. 

Helenese criticized the “undemocratic colonial framework” established by the Insular Cases, which deemed the “half-civilized,” “savage,” “alien races” living in Puerto Rico, Guam, and other so-called “unincorporated” U.S. territories were not entitled to the same constitutional rights and democratic participation because they were “unfit” and could not understand “Anglo-Saxon principles.”

Highlighting the national contradictions the Insular Cases present, Helenese underscored how they directly oppose the principles of democracy, self-determination, decolonization, and equality that U.S. international law commitments profess to uphold.

She joined the call for repealing “this anachronistic legal stance,” which not only “undermines the integrity of our republic but also inflicts unconscionable damage on the residents of these territories.”

Helenese declared it was a moral imperative to rectify this injustice, echoing leaders across party lines, including Supreme Court Justices Sotomayor and Gorsuch, who had taken the lead and condemned the Insular Cases for their baseless racial prejudices, “which have no place in our law.”

She added that Governor Albert Bryan Jr. of the United States Virgin Islands asserted the outdated rulings had enforced a century-long history of disenfranchisement and second-class status for Virgin Islanders. Quoting the governor, she said: “Virgin Islanders deserve to enjoy the full range of civil and political rights afforded by the U.S. Constitution.”

Furthermore, she recalled President Joe Biden’s assertion that “There can be no second-class citizens in the United States of America” when addressing the continued discrimination against residents of U.S. territories in federal benefits programs.

Helenese is calling for the Department of Justice to abandon its reliance on the Insular Cases “that stain our democracy and mock the anti-colonial values of our nation’s founding.”

In an impassioned plea in front of Congress, Helenese and fellow leaders demanded immediate action to eliminate the “blight of the Insular Cases from our legal system.” She emphasized that that their collective efforts to address this issue will not only heal the wounds inflicted on the residents of U.S. territories but will also restore the principles of justice and equality that form the bedrock of America.

The Bryan-Roach Administration is investing in the Territory’s people, infrastructure, and future through transparency, stabilizing the economy, restoring trust in the government, and ensuring that recovery projects are completed as quickly as possible. Visit

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