Our Latino and immigrant communities will be tuning in on March 1 to catch this year’s important State of the Union address. In this second year of President Biden’s administration, we can point to important changes that have or will improve the lives of Hispanics and all Americans. These include:
- The refundable Child Tax Credit included in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which reduced Latino child poverty by 30% last November.
- More than 560,000 Latinos enrolled in health coverage during the Special Enrollment Period provided by ARPA. Latinos made up 19% of new enrollments, compared to 16% from the same period the year before.
- Vaccination efforts targeted to the Latino community were sustained and successful. By the end of 2021, three out every four eligible Latinos across the nation had received at least one dose of vaccine—an important marker for the entire country.
This progress is encouraging, but our communities need long-term investments to continue contributing to our nation’s recovery. These include accessible, affordable health coverage; steps to close the racial wealth and achievement gaps; and measures to make existing government programs more accessible. And we can’t build back better for all if we leave so many behind. That is why all of these policy solutions must include the undocumented and families of mixed immigration status, who have helped carry our nation through the pandemic, and on whom we continue to rely to fill labor shortages in essential industries.
We are looking forward to hearing from President Biden on his administration’s commitment to place the following priorities in his upcoming budget proposal:
Invest in health coverage and nutrition
We cannot be a healthy nation if Latinos are left behind. Today, almost one in four Latinos still do not have health insurance. At the same time, the Census Bureau recently found that nearly one in five Latinos lacks access to enough nutritious foods.
Support the economic empowerment and housing needs of Latinos
The pandemic has pushed back the progress that Hispanic families had made after the Great Recession. Today, the typical white family has five times the wealth of the typical Hispanic family. Latino workers are over-concentrated in jobs with low wages as well as poor health and retirement benefits. We call for targeted programs that promote economic growth and opportunities for Latino workers, business owners, and families.
Strengthen the educational pipeline for Latino students
Within the next decade, one in three students in the United States will be Latino. Their parents are rightly concerned about learning loss during the pandemic. And current college students are financially stressed, saddled with debt, and worried about earning their degrees on time. Our country needs to increase investments from early childhood education through college to ensure students can recover and thrive.
Advance equity, inclusion, and civil rights
Structural racism and inequitable federal investments have contributed to lagging economic, education, housing, and health outcomes among Latinos. Today, our polarized political environment is rife with misinformation which further undermine the civil and human rights of Latinos and other historically marginalized communities. President Biden must advance a budget that roots out discrimination within federal agencies and puts equity at the center of our country’s recovery.
Protect immigrant and frontline workforce and their families
On average, undocumented immigrants have lived in the United States for 15 years or more. They collectively have six million children who are citizens and nearly 17 million other family members. Despite not qualifying for most safety net programs, they contribute more than $120 billion in state and federal taxes each year. It’s clear that immigrants are key to our future prosperity, and our nation’s budget should reflect that reality.