He addressed UnidosUS, the country’s largest Latino advocacy group, amid questions about the fight against Covid and the future of economic and immigration legislation.
With the Senate wrangling over key parts of his domestic policy agenda, President Joe Biden tried to reassure those who tuned into a major Latino group’s conference Monday of better times ahead.
Biden said the pandemic and its resulting economic crisis “brought disproportionate heartache to Latino families, even as so many Latinos — including immigrants — stepped up to carry Americans through this crisis.”
His comments were recorded for the conference of UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Latino advocacy group. They came as the Senate continued negotiations on Biden’s two-pronged domestic plan of a five-year, $579 billion infrastructure package and $3.5 billion spending plan that Democrats can pass without Republican approval.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has said immigration changes are being explored in the spending plan, but details have not yet been released.
Latinos were disproportionately hit by Covid, their vaccination rates have lagged other groups, and the pandemic reversed some economic gains from previous years. Trump administration programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program business loans helped too few Latino business owners.
There are generations of immigrants awaiting promised fixes to the U.S. immigration system and for Biden to shepherd through Congress paths to citizenship. A federal judge in Texas recently deemed the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA program illegal, frustrating teen and young adults who lack legal status after having been brought to the U.S. as children — also referred to as Dreamers — who had recently sent applications.
“That’s why we need pathways to citizenship for undocumented Americans,” Biden said during his brief address. “Until we secure that pathway for Dreamers, TPS holders, farmworkers and all those who contribute to our nation every single day, from fixing our immigration system to creating jobs to raising wages to protecting the sacred right to vote, my administration will always have your back. I promise you.”
By Suzanne Gamboa for NBC NEWS
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