"Santorum to Puerto Rico: Speak English if you want statehood", Reuters 3/14/2012:
Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told Puerto Ricans on Wednesday they would have to make English their primary language if they want to pursue U.S. statehood, a statement at odds with the U.S. Constitution.
Santorum traveled to the U.S. territory to campaign ahead of the island's Republican primary election scheduled for Sunday, where he, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are vying for 20 delegates.
Puerto Ricans, who recognize both English and Spanish as their official languages, are scheduled to vote in November on a referendum to decide whether they want to pursue statehood or remain a self-governing U.S. commonwealth.
In an interview with El Vocero newspaper, Santorum said he supported Puerto Ricans' right to self-determination regarding the island's political status.
"We need to work together and determine what type of relationship we want to develop," he told the newspaper.
But Santorum said he did not support a state in which English was not the primary language.
"Like any other state, there has to be compliance with this and any other federal law," Santorum said. "And that is that English has to be the principal language. There are other states with more than one language such as Hawaii but to be a state of the United States, English has to be the principal language."
However, the U.S. Constitution does not designate an official language, nor is there a requirement that a territory adopt English as its primary language in order to become a state.
Congress would have to give approval if Puerto Rico is to become the 51st state. Although Congress has considered numerous proposals to make English the official U.S. language, none has ever passed.
However, some states have passed their own laws declaring English the official language, including heavily Hispanic Florida.
The cited interview — Maricarmen Rivera Sánchez, "En suelo boricua Santorum", El Vocero 3/14/2012:
EV: ¿Respaldaría un estado donde se hable español como primer idioma?
RS: “Como en cualquier otro estado, se debe cumplir con esta y cualquier ley federal. Y eso es que el inglés tiene que ser el idioma principal. Hay otros estados con más de un idioma como es el caso de Hawai, pero para ser un estado de Estados Unidos, el inglés tiene que ser el idioma principal”.
Update — Senator Santorum explains his position ("Santorum stands by English condition for Puerto Rico statehood", CNN 3/15/2012):
Speaking to CNN's National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta on Thursday, he stood by his comments.
"Obviously Spanish will be spoken here on the island. But this needs to be a bilingual country not just a Spanish speaking country," he said. "Right now it is overwhelmingly Spanish speaking but it needs to have in order for it to integrate into American society, English has to be a language that is spoken here also and spoken universally."
And Governor Romney tries to differentiate himself ("Romney stakes opposition to Santorum over language issue", CNN 3/15/2012):
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told CNN that the former Massachusetts governor would not support such a requirement.
"Governor Romney believes that English is the language of opportunity and supports efforts to expand English proficiency in Puerto Rico and across America," Saul said in a statement. "However, he would not, as a prerequisite for statehood, require that the people of Puerto Rico cease using Spanish."
As the CNN story goes on to point out, Santorum did not "require that the people of Puerto Rico cease using Spanish", but only that "English needs to be the principal language".