In a livestream that aired July 29, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden discussed how his campaign would tackle many of the current issues in Latino communities. Janet Murgía, President of UnidosUS — the largest Latino non-profit advocacy organization in the United States — joined Biden, and said that the UnidosUS Action Fund would be endorsing his campaign.
A major talking point of the conversation was how Latinos have been hit especially hard during the pandemic. According to a report published earlier this month by UnidosUS, Latino communities have experienced high rates of COVID-19 infections, unemployment and food insecurity in the past few months.
“Our community is hurting right now,” Murgía said. “From a healthcare perspective, we’ve been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. And the statistics just bear that out every day.”
Because Latino families have faced more economic hardships since the beginning of the pandemic, Murgía said that many have had to make tough decisions lately. The combination of lack of health care access, high unemployment rates and other factors have led to the Latino community being particularly affected.
“We are torn between being able to go to work and put our lives at risk…and not putting food on our table,” she said, noting that food insecurity has increased significantly among Latinos.
Biden proposed many plans to address these issues. One of his solutions is to ensure the availability of COVID-19 treatment, testing and eventually vaccines to everyone, regardless of immigration status.
He also brought up increasing the amount of protections for essential workers. Since Latinos are overrepresented in many essential job sectors, their communities have been more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections. To combat this, Biden called for priority access to personal protective equipment (PPE), free COVID testing and paid sick leave for those on the frontline.
To provide relief for those struggling with housing payments, he said he would place freezes on rent and foreclosures for as long as the pandemic continues. In addition, he would work to “make housing a right and not a privilege” by investing in his affordable housing plan.
Immigration was another topic Biden and Murgía touched on. If elected, Biden said that he would immediately send an immigration bill to Congress that provided a “roadmap to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants and another that would protect recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). He also said he would put an end to the public charge rule, a regulation that helps determine whether some immigrants can receive a visa extension or lawful permanent residency.
Later in the livestream, Murgía also mentioned that the pandemic has not only caused financial and health concerns, but academic ones as well.
“Our parents right now are worried that their children are losing ground,” she said. “A lot of our community doesn’t have full access to broadband [internet], and we don’t know if we’re going to be able to have distance learning in a way that’s allowing our community to actually learn and be safe.”
Biden responded by describing what measures he would take in reopening schools. His plan involves implementing uniform guidelines across schools “without political interference,” various safety protocols and the availability of federal resources to assist schools in reopening safely.
For schools that are not able to open in this way, the presidential candidate said distance learning would have to be improved to a point where they can “close the learning gap that COVID-19 has widened.”
Toward the end of the talk, Biden stated that full economic recovery from the pandemic is not possible without ensuring that everyone can receive the assistance they need.
“The only way to keep this thing from going even worse is [ensuring that] people have the money, now, to stay in their homes, to not have to choose between food and their rent,” he said. “It is the way you stimulate growth.”
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