President Biden knows that America’s future prosperity and global leadership is tied to the success of Latino families and communities. Latinos must receive equitable opportunities to share in the recovery from the pandemic and the investments we are making to build back better than before. After four years of attacks on Latino families and communities, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken historic actions to advance civil rights, racial equity, and economic prosperity for Latino communities across the country. The President has also re-opened the doors of the White House, so Latino community leaders and community members have a seat at the table. This National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Biden-Harris Administration celebrates the progress made towards equity for Latino communities since President Biden took office and recommits to lifting up Latino families and communities.
Providing Immediate Relief to Latino Individuals and Families through the American Rescue Plan. When President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law, it provided a lifeline to millions of families who were struggling from the economic fallout of the pandemic. In addition to the Child Tax Credit and Affordable Care Act subsidies, the ARP also provided benefits that include:
- Substantially Cutting Latino Child Poverty. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) expanded the Child Tax Credit to help families with the costs of raising their kids and provided the first ever monthly payments for a major tax credit. Before the ARP, half of all Latino children lived in families with too little in income to qualify for the full Child Tax Credit. This year no child is denied the full credit because their family is low-income. As a result, Treasury estimates that 26 million kids who were not previously eligible will receive the full credit. Research from Columbia and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reflects that these children are disproportionately Black and Latino.
- Expanding Relief for Mixed-status Families. More than 1.4 million spouses and nearly 3.7 million children who have a Social Security number in mixed-status families were eligible for $1400 each in cash relief. For the first time, this relief applied to all spouses and children with Social Security numbers in mixed status families, meaning that 2.2 million more children received cash payments under this bill than 2020 CARES Act.
- Supporting Latino-owned Small Businesses. The ARP has supported small businesses, including through a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund that has helped restaurants and bars recover from the pandemic, and an additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. The ARP also made changes to the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan program – including raising the cap from $500,000 to $2 million, and created a $100 million Community Navigator pilot program that works with community groups to connect eligible business owners with American Rescue Plan and other pandemic-relief programs.
- Expanding Access to Health Care. The ARP allocated $7.6 billion for Community Health Centers (CHCs), which predominately serve Latino and communities of color. Through ARP investments, 69 percent of Latino uninsured adults have access to a zero-premium plan and 80 percent have access to a plan for less than $50 a month. According to the latest uninsured data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, Exchange-based coverage was higher among Latino persons (4.2 percent) than non-Latino Caucasians (3.7 percent) and non-Latino Blacks (2.6 percent).
- Safely Reopening Schools. The ARP has provided more than $122 billion to help K-12 schools reopen safely and $39.6 billion to support institutions of higher education, including Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). Nearly 14 million students in our Nation’s public elementary and secondary school system and nearly 4 million students in post-secondary education are Hispanic. Hispanic students constitute more than 27 percent of all pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students and nearly 20 percent of college students.
- Support College Students. The ARP provided more than $36 billion in support to institutions of higher education, including HSIs, to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic. All students, regardless of citizenship, who met the appropriate criteria were eligible to receive financial aid from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).
- Keeping families housed. The ARP and Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 allocates over $46 billion to keep families safely home with emergency rental assistance and culturally and linguistically relevant outreach and stability services. In addition, the ARP includes funding for housing counseling and homeless prevention services. These programs are critical to supporting Latino renters who face eviction.
Safeguarding Latinos from COVID-19. Because of systemic inequities in our economy and healthcare system, Latino communities have been disproportionately burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since his first day in office, President Biden has used every lever and tool to ensure every person in our country can access safe, free, and convenient vaccines; expand testing eligibility; and invest in more equitable public health infrastructure to better serve communities of color. That includes working with pharmacies to extend their hours to ensure working people have a chance to get their shot. In September, President Biden announced a six-pronged, comprehensive national strategy that employs the same science-based approach that was used to successfully combat previous variants of COVID-19 earlier this year. This plan ensures that the Biden-Harris Administration is using every available tool to combat COVID-19 and save lives in the months ahead, while also keeping schools open and safe, and protecting our economy from lockdowns and damage. Fortunately, Latinos are now vaccinating at the same rate as their white counterparts as a result of targeted and strategic outreach to address questions and dispel misinformation targeted at the Latino community. While there is more work to do, recent data shows that 73 percent of Latinos have received at least their first shot – that compares to 71 percent of white Americans and 70 percent of Black Americans.
Re-Establishing the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics. On September 13, President Biden signed an Executive Order re-establishing the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics. The Executive Order helps to ensure that from early childhood to entering the workforce, Latino students, including DREAMers, can reach their highest potential. The Initiative will address the systemic inequities Latino students continue to face in our nation’s public education system, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis; will help to build capacity at institutions serving Latino students, including Hispanic Serving Institutions; and will advance educational equity and economic opportunity for Latino students, families, and communities.
Leveraging Federal Procurement to Narrow the Racial Wealth Gap for Latino Entrepreneurs and Families. Today, the typical Latino family has just nineteen cents for every dollar in wealth held by the typical white family. Federal procurement is one of our most powerful tools to advance equity and build wealth in underserved communities, but only around 10 percent of federal agencies’ total eligible contracting dollars typically go to small disadvantaged businesses, a category under federal law for which Latino-owned businesses are presumed to qualify. Recognizing the importance of using the government’s purchasing power to advance opportunity and equity, the Biden-Harris Administration has launched an all-of-government effort to expand contracting opportunities for underserved small businesses, setting a new goal of increasing the share of contracts going to small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent over the next five years.
Launching a Whole-Of-Government Initiative to Advance Equity and Justice for Underserved Communities, Including Latino Communities. On his first day in office, President Biden signed a historic Executive Order establishing a cross-government initiative to advance equity and justice for communities that have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality, including many Latino communities. The President directed all agencies to advance equity by taking comprehensive action to root out bias from federal programs and policies, engage with underserved communities, and ensure that federal resources equitably reach all Americans, including Latinos.
Advancing Immigration Reform. Given the 4 years of chaos and cruelty under the previous Administration, President Biden has been focused on rebuilding our immigration system and ensuring it is more fair, humane, and orderly, including by:
- Pushing for Immigration Reform Legislation in Congress. On his first day in office, the President sent Congress the United States Citizenship Act – comprehensive legislation that seeks to create a pathway to permanent residence and eventual citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in and contributing to our country. The President’s plan also modernizes our immigration system and responsibly manages our borders, while addressing the root causes of migration. President Biden and Vice President Harris have repeatedly expressed their strong support for including immigration reform in reconciliation legislation moving through Congress to enable DREAMers, TPS recipients, farmworkers, and essential workers to gain long-awaited pathways to permanent residence and eventual citizenship.
- Promoting Naturalization. President Biden is committed to making the naturalization process more accessible for eligible noncitizens. He has directed the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State to improve the naturalization processing, including identifying and removing barriers to naturalization, and reducing backlogs for naturalization applications. The President also established an Interagency Working Group to Promote Naturalization.
- Protecting DACA Recipients and Dreamers. On his first day in office, President Biden issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to, in consultation with the Attorney General, to take appropriate actions to preserve and fortify the 2012 DACA policy, under which eligible undocumented immigrant youth could be permitted to work and study in our communities on a temporary basis, and the Department of Homeland Security recently published a new proposed rule on DACA.
- Reinstating and Expanding Central American Minors (CAM) Program. The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration have taken steps to reinstate and improve the Central American Minors (CAM) program. As part of this phased approach, DHS and DOS have continued to reopen cases that were closed when CAM was terminated in 2018 and have expanded eligibility of those able to petition for their children’s access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
- Extending TPS for El Salvador and Honduras. The Department of Homeland Security announced the extension of TPS (Temporary Protected Status) designations for El Salvador and Honduras. The extension of TPS-related documentation includes Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) through Dec. 31, 2022.
- Designating Venezuela for TPS. DHS created a new designation of TPS for Venezuela for 18 months, until September 2022. This enables Venezuelan nationals (and individuals without nationality who last resided in Venezuela) currently residing in the United States to file initial applications, so long as they meet eligibility requirements.
- Supporting Immigrant Veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is partnering with DHS to provide needed care and services to deported Veterans, including timely and accurate information on immigration services.
Protecting the Integrity of the Census. Afteryears of attempts to politicize the decennial Census count, President Biden gave career professionals at the Census Bureau the time and space they needed to deliver an accurate count of every American. The 2020 Census results reflect the historic diversity of the country, and the Census Bureau has made improvements to data collection so they’re better able to reveal the multifaceted nature of growing Latino communities.
Supporting Recovery, Opportunity, and Equity for Puerto Rico. President Biden is delivering on his commitment to treat Puerto Rico and all Puerto Ricans with dignity and respect. In the first 100 days, the Biden-Harris Administration unlocked more than 9 billion dollars in federal disaster funds for Puerto Rico that are helping to rebuild from natural disasters and strengthen the island against future storms. To make sure Puerto Ricans have they support they need to get ahead, the American Rescue Plan permanently fixed Puerto Rico’s unequal treatment under the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, providing workers and families with thousands of dollars in tax relief. In July, the White House convened the Federal Working Group on Puerto Rico, an all-of-government Cabinet-level initiative to partner with Puerto Rico to invest in modern and resilient infrastructure, support inclusive economic development, expand education and workforce opportunities, and set the island on a course for future prosperity. In September, the Biden Administration announced that Puerto Rico will receive $3 billion per year in Medicaid funding from the federal government in perpetuity, supporting the provision of affordable, quality health care for residents of Puerto Rico.
Advancing Safety for Latino Communities Through Community Violence Interventions and Commonsense Gun Control. Cities across the country are experiencing a spike in homicides, violence that is greatest in racially segregated, high-poverty neighborhoods and significantly impacts too many Latino communities. As part of the Administration’s plan to reduce gun violence, the Biden-Harris Administration announced historic investments in community violence intervention programs to combat the gun violence epidemic and keep underserved communities and neighborhoods safe.
Appointing a Historically Diverse Cabinet and Administration. The Biden-Harris Administration includes barrier-breaking Latino leaders. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and immigrant to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security, and Secretary Xavier Becerra is the first Latino to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Administrator Isabella Guzman leads the Small Business Administration, and Secretary Miguel Cardona leads the Department of Education. Once confirmed, Robert Santos will be the first Latino and the first person of color to be Director of the United States Census Bureau.
President Biden has assembled the most diverse Administration in our nation’s history, and is proud to serve alongside the 15 percent of all appointees who identify as Latino or Hispanic, and the 32 percent of all appointees who are naturalized citizens or the children of immigrants.
Protecting and Empowering Latino Workers. The Department of Labor (DOL) has taken a number of steps to promote safe working environments and empower Latino workers all across the country, including:
- Boosting farmworker wages. Boosting the national average wage for farmworkers to $13.99 per hour, a 4.5 percent pay increase over the prior year, and reversing a harmful 2-year “wage freeze” policy put in place by the prior administration.
- Expanding workers outreach. Launching an initiative that provides outreach and education to protect front-line, essential workers during and after the pandemic.
- Protecting Latino workers from heat exposure. Combating hazards associated with extreme heat exposure – both indoors and outdoors – through enhanced OSHA measures that better protect workers. This initiative will disproportionately benefit Latino workers who are more likely to face weather exposure. OSHA is implementing an enforcement initiative on heat-related hazards, developing a National Emphasis Program on heat inspections, and launching a rulemaking process to develop a workplace heat standard. In addition, the agency is forming a National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Work Group to provide better understanding of challenges and to identify and share best practices to protect workers.
- Expanding job training opportunities for migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Using the National Farmworkers Job Training Program (NFJP), a nationally-directed, locally-administered program, to provide services for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their dependents. As part of this program, Career Services and Training grant recipients help farmworkers and their dependents acquire necessary skills to either stabilize or advance in their agricultural jobs or obtain employment in new industries. For Program Year 2021, the Employment and Training Administration has committed to providing more than $87 million through the NFJP, where more than 75 percent of participants identify as Hispanic of Latino.
Providing Resources to Help Latino Owned Small Businesses Grow and Thrive. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has leveraged new and existing resources to provide Latino owned small businesses with resources and support.
- SBA Office of Capital Access has provided more than $2.5 billion in loans to Latino owned small business in FY2021. These loans consist of SBA 7(a) loans, the SBA 504 loan, and SBA micro loan. The SBA Office of International Trade has also provided 66 loans to Latino-owned small business exporters, worth $95 million which generated $344 million in export sales and supported 1,057 jobs in FY2021.
- Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), a resource partner of the SBA, have provided training and counseling to more than 60,000 clients who identified as Latino or Hispanic entrepreneurs or would-be entrepreneurs. SCORE, another SBA resource partner, renovated a centralized educational hub called SCORE for Hispanic Entrepreneurs which offers personalized support and resources.
- SBA’s Boots to Business program empowers service members, military spouses, and veterans through business ownership training. In FY2021, 1,629 out of 14,044 participants in the program identified as Hispanic or Latino. B2B provides an entrepreneurship training course focused on Transitioning Service Members and Military Spouses as part of DoD’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP).
In the weeks and months ahead, President Biden is committed to delivering event more results for Latinos, including:
Making Generational Investments in Latino Families Through the President’s Proposed Build Back Better Agenda.
- Extending the Child Tax Credit. The expanded Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan has helped millions of families meet the costs of raising children with the security and dignity they deserve, delivering $250 per month or $3,000 per year for children between 6 and 17 and $300 per month or $3,600 per year for children under 6. President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda will extend this critical tax cut for working families for years to come.
- Lower Prescription Drug Costs. Latino individuals use 10 to 40 percent fewer medications than their white counterparts for the same illnesses because prescription medications are too costly. President Biden’s agenda will lower prescription drug costs for Americans by letting Medicare negotiate drug prices, so consumers are no longer at the whim of pharmaceutical companies.
- Lower Child Care Costs. Only 59.4 percent of all three- and four-year-old Hispanic children are enrolled in preschool or kindergarten programs. President Biden’s agenda lowers child care costs and makes universal preschool a reality, providing all parents, including Latino parents, access to high-quality programs in the setting of their choice.
- Lower Health Care Costs. Almost 10.9 million Hispanic people were uninsured in 2019 before President Biden took office, and coverage under the Affordable Care Act (even with the ACA’s premium subsidies) was too expensive for many families. President Biden’s agenda lowers health care costs for those buying coverage through the ACA by extending the American Rescue Plan’s cost savings, which helps 730,000 Latino people save an average of $50 per person per month, and allowing 580,000 uninsured Latinos to gain coverage. The plan also adds dental, vision, and hearing coverage to Medicare, benefiting the more than 5 million Hispanic people enrolled, and closes the Medicaid gap for low-income Americans. The Biden-Harris Administration continues to encourage states that have not yet expanded Medicaid coverage to their eligible populations to do so. If those remaining states were to expand Medicaid under the ACA, an additional million uninsured Latino adults would gain eligibility for health coverage.
- Lower Higher Education Costs. The Build Back Better Agenda would provide two years of free community college—boosting the earnings of low-wage high school graduates by nearly $6,000 per year. President Biden’s agenda also invests billions in subsidized tuition for low- and middle-income students at minority-serving institutions, including Hispanic Serving Institutions.
- Lower Housing Costs. More than 55 percent of Latino renters pay over 30 percent of their income in rent. The Plan’s investments help lower housing costs and increase the supply of affordable housing through tax credits and government financing.
- Increase Access to Capital. The Build Back Better Agenda includes nearly $25 billion dollars to support small business lending and technical assistance, including those in communities of color, to ensure that Latino small business owners and entrepreneurs have the resources they need to start up and grow.
- Create a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program. Seventy-three percent of Latino adults are either ineligible for or cannot afford to take unpaid leave compared to 60 percent of white adults. Additionally, survey research finds that Hispanic workers have lower rates of access to paid leave compared to white non-Hispanic workers. The Build Back Better Agenda will create a national, comprehensive paid family and medical leave program to ensure workers receive partial wage replacement from the government to bond with a new child, care for a sick loved one, heal themselves, or grieve a loss without being forced to choose between a needed paycheck and their caregiving responsibilities.
- Increase Access to Workforce Training. The Build Back Better Agenda will invest in workforce training programs that will prepare millions of workers, especially from underserved communities, for high-quality jobs in fast-growing sectors, make historic investments in Registered Apprenticeship programs, and invest in middle and high school career and technical education programs.
Advancing Equity and Economic Opportunity for Latinos Through Historic Infrastructure Investments. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act addresses economic disparities in our economy and the consequences of decades of disinvestment in America’s infrastructure that have disproportionately burdened communities of color. Through critical investments, the legislation increases access to good-paying jobs, affordable high-speed internet, reliable public transit, clean drinking water and other resources, to ensure that all communities – including Latino communities – get a fair shot at the American dream.