Malloy says Conn. Puerto Rican population could double

HARTFORD & EAST GRANBY, Conn. (WTNH)– According to many customers, The “Aqui Me Quedo” restaurant on Albany Avenue in Hartford has the best Puerto Rican food in Connecticut.

They might get an argument from all the others, but there’s no argument that the crisis on the island is not being met with enough help from the mainland.

“There’s not enough help on the ground, boots on the ground to get the items disseminated accordingly,” said Lisette Colon of Bridgeport United for Puerto Rico.

She came because both U.S. Senators were at the restaurant today along with leaders of Puerto Rican communities from across the state, to criticize the Trump Administration’s response to the crisis.

“Texas and Florida got three times the number of troops, got an immediate visit from the President. Got a congressional appropriation within seven to ten days. Why isn’t that happening for Puerto Rico?,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut).

Juan Diaz of Manchester was getting his lunch at ‘Agui Me Quedo’ today and said his best friend is trying to bring his entire family to Connecticut as soon as they can get a flight.

“That’s a total of 14 people. Last time he communicated with them they had no water, no food, you can’t even get money out of the A-T-Ms,” Diaz said.

The secondary issue with the crisis on Puerto Rico is the impact it will have on the public schools in Connecticut’s largest cities.  After seeing off the latest Connecticut National Guard troops to leave for the island from the Air National Guard terminal in East Granby, Governor Malloy said,  “Connecticut has about 250,000 of our residents who have Puerto Rican roots. I could easily see that number expanding, potentially even doubling in the coming weeks and months.”

Back at the restaurant, Ana Valentin of the Hartford Puerto Rican Day Parade Commitee said,  “That’s a very scary thought, not in a bad way, but yeah, he could be right.”

Under federal law, displaced students from Puerto Rico must be counseled to enroll in the schools here, they automatically qualify for free school meals, and must also be provided with health and other services.  Helping the cities pay for this added expense is expected to quickly become another issue for the legislature which is already bogged down in the longest state budget stalemate in history.

Many groups in the Puerto Rican communities in New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport are now not only helping to send aid to the island, they are collecting things for families that will soon be arriving here they’ll not only need shelter and food, they’ll need some things they never owned before, like winter coats.

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