The newly elected president has expressed his commitment to ensure equality and provide more opportunities for Hispanics in the US. But what does that really look like?
During a speech Joe Biden gave in September in Kissimmee, a hub of Florida’s Puerto Rican population in Florida, the newly elected president expressed his belief that the Latino community in the US is a huge contributor to the success of the country.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the future of the success of this country depends on Hispanics having the opportunities and the tools they need to succeed,” Biden said. And with almost 60 million Hispanics living in the United States as of 2018, according to an estimate by the Census Bureau, Biden is speaking to about 18% of the overall US population.
A Strong Commitment
President Biden’s commitment to bolster Latinos in the US is not new. The Obama-Biden administration’s economic recovery programs helped to cut down Latino unemployment to 5.9% in 2016, down from a nearly 13% peak in 2009. And after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in 2010, Latinos benefited the most under the federal statute that Biden worked to pass with President Obama. By 2019, over 4 million had access to critical healthcare coverage under the ACA’s policy guidelines. Before this legislation, Hispanics had the highest initial uninsured rates among their peers, according to a recent study by Commonwealth Fund.
Looking to the Future
As president, Biden has promised to work to ensure equal opportunities for Latino families across the nation with a plan that includes:
Expanding access to quality, affordable health care: Biden promises to build on the ACA to give everyone an affordable public option, while letting individuals choose whether to use that public option or keep their private coverage. The plan will also lower premiums and automatically cover the 5 million low-income Americans who would be eligible for Medicaid if it wasn’t for their state government’s refusal to expand it. He’ll double funding for the community health centers that often provide care to undocumented immigrants, and restore funding for Planned Parenthood, which treats more than a half a million Latino patients.
Making sure Latinos have access to equal opportunities to join the middle class: Biden says he’ll start by increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, restoring overtime pay to millions of workers, and getting rid of non-compete clauses and other requirements that make it harder to move to higher paying jobs. He’ll also continue to fight for workers’ rights to form unions.
Expanding access to quality, affordable education, and training beyond high school: Biden has promised to provide two years of community college without debt, and halve the cap on student loan payments to just 5% of discretionary income above $25,000. He’ll also make a $70 billion investment in Hispanic and other minority-serving institutions. Under his plan, DACA recipients will qualify for these benefits for the first time.
Protecting communities of color from environmental impacts: Biden will invest $1.7 trillion in building a clean-energy economy, creating 10 million jobs and ensuring that the communities most harmed by environmental injustice benefit first. He’ll also rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, and rally the world to increase their climate targets. Biden will take action against fossil fuel companies and other polluters who put profit over people and knowingly harm our environment and poison our communities’ air, land, and water, or conceal information regarding potential environmental and health risks.
You can read more about his plans for the Latino communities here.