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Three and a half million people live in Puerto Rico. But many more Puerto Ricans, about 5.2 million, live on the U.S. mainland. Over the last decade, crime, the struggling economy and a fiscal crisis have prompted tens of thousands to leave the island each year. Many land in Florida.

At a community center in Orlando this week, Puerto Rican leaders from all over the U.S. gathered at a conference with an ambitious goal: to forge a national political agenda — and flex some political muscle.