The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) is proud to support the passage of the American Rescue Plan, which will ensure that millions of Hispanic families will receive the help they desperately need by putting money in hardworking peoples’ pockets, vaccines in arms, people in jobs, and students in schools.
The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 520,000 Americans and upended the lives of millions of families. The health and economic devastation has disproportionately impacted Hispanic families.Millions of Hispanic high-risk essential workers, regardless of immigration status, have stood strong to help feed and keep America safe during the COVID-19 pandemic while bearing the brunt of infections and deaths. Many of these same workers and their families have been left behind in previous COVID relief packages.
CHC Members worked tirelessly with the Biden Administration and Congressional leadership to ensure that the emergency aid programs in the American Rescue Plan better supported Hispanic families and were more inclusive by not using immigration or citizenship status as immediate disqualifiers. Among the many worthy provisions, the CHC worked to ensure the inclusion of stimulus payments for millions of mixed-status families and U.S. Citizen children living in mixed-status families who were excluded from previous COVID relief packages. The administration has heeded our calls to make the vaccine available for all high-risk individuals without regard of immigration status.
The bill also includes the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit, which will help lift millions of low-income children and their families out of poverty, including 4.1 million Hispanic children. It will also provide resources with an equity focus so that Hispanic-owned small businesses and disadvantaged school districts receive the funding necessary to keep their doors open in a safe environment.
The American Rescue Plan will help put our nation on a more inclusive and speedier path to recovery for everyone.
The American Rescue Plan provides relief to Hispanic families by:
Delivering immediate relief to working families bearing the brunt of this crisis
Because of persistent discrimination and inequities in the labor market, Hispanics are facing one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. In December, nine percent of Hispanic workers – 2.7 million people – were unemployed. Approximately 1 in 5 Hispanic households are also struggling with food insufficiency, and almost 1 in 3 Latino renters have fallen behind on payments.
● Give working families a $1,400 per-person check, bringing their total relief payment from this and the December down payment to the $2,000 it should’ve been from the start, helping Hispanic families who have been hardest hit financially by this crisis.
● Extend current unemployment insurance benefits and eligibility and provide a $300 supplement until the end of September, supporting the 1 in 11 Hispanic workers who are unemployed.
● Provide an additional $35 billion in rental, mortgage, and homelessness assistance, helping Hispanic families who are more likely to be rent-burdened.
● Provide food assistance to the millions of families facing food insecurity during this crisis by: increasing the value of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits; partnering with restaurants to feed American families and keep restaurant workers on the job at the same time; and providing U.S. Territories with $1 billion in additional nutrition assistance funding.
●Increase the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6) and make 17-year-olds qualifying children for the year.
● Raise the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults from roughly $530 to close to $1,500, raise the income limit for the credit from about $16,000 to about $21,000, and eliminate the age cap for older workers. Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults will give a critical boost to the earnings to an estimated 4 million Latino workers.
● Provide an additional $1 billion for states to cover the additional cash assistance that Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients needed as a result of the crisis.
Supporting communities that are struggling in the wake of COVID-19
● Provide emergency grants, lending, and investment to hard-hit small businesses, especially Hispanic-owned businesses.
● Distribute $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, and territorial governments to ensure that they are in a position to keep front line public workers on the job and paid, while also effectively distributing the vaccine, scaling testing, reopening schools, and maintaining other vital services.
● Invest $20 billion to help hard-hit public transit agencies avoid layoffs and service reductions, which disproportionately harm Hispanic workers who are more likely to be dependent on public transportation to get to work.
Providing critical measures to contain the virus to help save lives and keep Hispanic families healthy
● Invest $160 billion to fund a national vaccination program that efficiently and equitably administers the vaccine, and provide the supplies, testing, and public health workforce to slow the spread of COVID-19. These emergency measures will help combat the heavy toll this virus is exacting on Hispanic families and will deliver community-based and culturally competent care.
● Provide $130 billion — supplemented by additional state and local relief — to help schools open and stay open, by providing them the resources to do so safely, including for cleaning, smaller class sizes, and ventilation. These investments will help ensure that schools are able to meet students’ needs during this pandemic.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, MD, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Ruiz, pictured above, made the comments in response to Congress passing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act.
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