The American Families Plan Delivers Hope for Millions – But There is More to do to Realize the Biden Campaign Promises


Laura Esquivel

NEW YORK – Hispanic Federation President and CEO Frankie Miranda responds to President Biden’s address to a Joint Session of Congress and his First 100 Days in office:

“Tonight, President Biden delivered a unifying message of hope and optimism, outlining a vision for our country to realize its potential as a great nation. The American Families Plan, a $1.8 trillion companion bill to the $2.5 trillion American Jobs Plan, are badly needed investments that will help us continue on the road to a just recovery from the human and economic devastation as a result of an unprecedented health pandemic, compounded by historic inequities and under investments that has ravaged Latino and immigrant communities and our national economy.

"The President presented a once-in-a-generation chance for Congress to pass a transformational economic recovery package that invests in our future, dramatically reduces poverty, advances economic, racial, and gender justice, and puts millions of people to work in family-sustaining jobs across the economy.

"The President’s Child Tax Credit expansion, enacted in the American Rescue Plan, will reduce child poverty for Latino children by approximately fifty percent (only for the next four years without further action), help millions of families get affordable, high-quality childcare, provide a boost in lifetime educational attainment by funding universal preschool for all three- and four- year-olds, two years of free community college, plus expanded Pell grants to make higher education more affordable. Although too many remain uninsured, the proposal would also expand access to affordable health care and give workers the ability to take paid leave to meet their families’ health and caregiving needs.

"President Biden’s day one bill and executive orders on immigration policy were a dramatic and welcome departure from the racism and xenophobia of the Trump era. We applaud the President’s current call to action on immigration and urge Congress to heed that call for a path to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented in this country. We know it is impossible to “build back better” without including immigrants – and any economic recovery plan must include immediate relief for undocumented essential workers, farmworkers, and their families.

"But there is more to do and what happens in the next 100 days will be just as important. Many critical things can be done through executive action such as closing hundreds of thousands of non-priority deportation cases, reopening the border to asylum seekers without relying on detention, expanding access to TPS protections, and a halt to the mass deportations of immigrants from Haiti, Mexico, and Central American countries.

"President Biden has also taken many actions to begin to fulfill his promises for renewal, recovery, and respect for Puerto Rico such as providing access to promised reconstruction funds intentionally denied to Puerto Rico by the previous administration. However, Puerto Rico needs accelerated assistance and remedies in response to the pandemic as a result of the historic inequities in funding for federal programs that have contributed to one of the highest poverty rates of any population in the country. Puerto Rico entered the pandemic after more than a decade of economic decline, coupled with hurricanes, earthquakes, and an unprecedented, ongoing bankruptcy process with traditional mechanisms to address bankruptcy denied by Congress to the local government.

"President Biden also promised that he would provide equitable access to SSI and other federal benefits for Americans in Puerto Rico and denounced the Trump Administration for opposing a federal court decision that found denying Puerto Ricans those benefits was discriminatory. It is baffling and disappointing that the Biden Administration continues to let these appeals move forward at the Supreme Court while affirmatively echoing the same arguments the Trump administration once made to deny Puerto Rico equitable access to federal benefits programs in spite of two recent court decisions calling this denial of benefits both discriminatory and unconstitutional. President Biden has proposed a ground-breaking agenda to move us toward an equitable economy and address problems that have plagued our nation for decades. That should include Puerto Rico. We hope that in the next 100 days we will see a reversal of these positions.

"We commend the President and his Administration for their extraordinary job accelerating vaccine availability. However, the reality is that inequities in access to vaccines and information from trusted messengers needed to increase uptake in Latino communities still exists. We need to do much more to ensure that our communities get vaccinated. Latino community-based and non-profit sectors remain underutilized in the fight to address both hesitancy and access. Dr. Bechara Choucair, the White House vaccinations coordinator recently acknowledged that vaccine hesitancy can’t be overcome without trusted messengers and a serious “ground game” similar to get out the vote efforts. We urge the administration to do three things: utilize the same strategies seeing success in other communities, invest commensurate resources in polling to understand how to better address hesitancy in Latino and immigrant communities, and expand vaccine rollout programs and resources to our trusted community-based organizations and communities. Achieving “herd immunity” cannot be realized without quickly accelerating vaccine uptake in the second largest population group in the country.

"For 30 years, Hispanic Federation has worked to empower, support, and advocate for Latino and immigrant communities. We will continue to work with Congress and this Administration to center the voices and needs of communities historically disadvantaged by systemic racism to ensure that these investments redress past inequities, prioritize the needs of Latino families, immigrants, and other communities of color, and result in a just, equitable, and transformational recovery and future. Together with our allies, we will work for a future that prioritizes the human infrastructure of education, health care, food, housing, and a sustainable economy built on clean jobs.”

See Hispanic Federation’s Priorities for the Biden-Harris First 100 days here.