Nation’s Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Issues Statement on President’s Budget

Biden budget will meaningfully improve lives for Latinos

— President Biden’s administration announced yesterday a $6.9 trillion federal budget for the fiscal year 2024. In reaction to the proposed budget Eric Rodriguez, UnidosUS Senior Vice President, Policy and Advocacy, issued the following statement: 

“On balance, we applaud President Biden for a budget that will make a difference in the lives of Hispanics. We appreciate the prioritization of health care and coverage in the president’s proposal—an estimated 600,000 uninsured Latinos would gain health coverage by closing the Medicaid coverage gap. Latinos will also benefit significantly from making permanent the expanded premium tax credits, which since 2020, contributed to a 53% increase in Hispanic enrollment in Affordable Care Act plans. The investments in mental health, nutrition, and reducing medical debt will meaningly benefit Hispanic children and families.

“Too many Americans face a housing crisis, and Latinos experience disproportionate housing insecurity. Biden’s proposal addresses this by increasing housing supply, curtailing restrictive zoning that limits affordable housing, funding down payment assistance, and reducing the cost of securing a mortgage for underserved borrowers. It also includes a 5% increase in the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund that would fuel financing and economic growth in distressed communities. Together, these programs would increase affordable housing for a growing number of working Americans and facilitate homeownership among Latinos and first-time homebuyers. In the release of more budget details expected on Monday, we hope to see robust funding for HUD’s housing counseling program so that Latinos have the support they need to access these programs.

“We’re gratified by the president’s ongoing commitment to improve learning in our public schools for all students and make college more affordable. More than three-quarters of the multilingual learner population in the United States—5.1 million students—are Latino, and a similar proportion speaks Spanish at home. We need $2 billion to meet the education needs of this growing population, so we are disappointed with the modest $305 million increase—for a total of $1.2 billion—in the president’s budget. The proposed investments to make higher education free and more affordable for students struggling to pay for college would be transformational. And, because half of Latinos in college receive a Pell Grant that has not kept up with inflation, we support the president’s plan to double the maximum federal Pell Grant but wish he did so in this budget to meet today’s needs rather than by 2029. We also hope the forthcoming budget materials propose a robust increase in Postsecondary Student Success Grants (PSSG), which help students graduate with a degree. Despite the growing enrollment of Hispanic students, they lag their wealthier and white peers in completing college.

“We stand with the president in calling for the restoration of the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) enacted in the American Rescue Plan, which cut child poverty in half in 2021 and making permanent the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansion which lifts low-paid workers out of poverty. However, we are deeply disappointed that the president has once again refused to support the restoration of CTC eligibility to immigrant children, who are among the most vulnerable children in America. We also call on him to support restoring eligibility for the EITC for mixed-status households who are otherwise eligible.

“The Biden proposal includes a timely and welcome infusion of funds needed for enforcement and increased penalties for labor abuses, including child labor violations. It also promotes immigrant integration and inclusion by reducing immigrant benefit processing backlogs and funding the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, which promotes naturalization. However, the organizations that assist aspiring Americans in applying for citizenship face process barriers to securing the credentials they need from the Department of Justice to provide these critical services. We need more funds to address the complex humanitarian needs on the border, support those seeking safety, and process legitimate asylum claims fairly and efficiently, especially for families and unaccompanied minors who need greater access to legal services.

“With this budget, President Biden has again demonstrated his deep commitment to supporting working families and children through critical federal spending. We call on Congress to commit to advancing a federal budget that promotes the well-being of working families, with the key improvements suggested above that would better support multilingual learners in schools, reduce poverty for all children, and finally invest the resources needed to manage the challenges on our southern border more effectively and humanely.”