Institutional Statement

UnidosUS Response to Senate Passage of Families First Coronavirus Response Act

March 19, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC—Our country is experiencing profound challenges that require the federal government to act decisively in protecting the American people from the rapid spread of the novel Coronavirus. To that end, yesterday Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Act (H.R. 6201), an initial down-payment of support to begin to protect Americans from the threats of a historic pandemic and the ensuing economic fallout. While the legislation has considerable shortcomings, UnidosUS (previously the National Council of La Raza) welcomes the passage of the legislation as a crucial first step of a comprehensive response that must still address the unresolved needs of vulnerable communities.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes important UnidosUS priorities, including an expansion of resources to protect workers who will suffer the health and economic ramifications of the virus. These resources include expanded funding and eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program; unemployment insurance and food assistance for children who would otherwise be fed in school. The bill also provides free testing for the virus and helps states provide Medicaid services. While the legislation will also help individuals in need of paid sick and family leave, the provisions will leave millions of American workers without this vitally needed benefit.

The Coronavirus pandemic has further exposed long-time inequities in access to our health care and financial systems, and Latinos and other low- and middle-income workers will bear the disproportionate brunt of the harms. As Congress continues to negotiate a much-needed third and fourth package in response to the Coronavirus, UnidosUS will be working closely with our network of nearly 300 Affiliates to ensure that the needs of vulnerable communities across the country are addressed. This includes a robust expansion of access to health care and paid sick and family leave that protects employees who will be most in need, including low-wage, part-time, and gig workers. Congress must also alleviate financial burdens by improving access to unemployment insurance, housing assistance and student debt relief. Additionally, in the same way that we must empower small businesses, we must ensure that trusted nongovernmental organizations that are on the frontlines providing economic, educational, health and legal services have the resources that they need to help people in their communities through this crisis. We must also ensure that relief reaches the diverse communities across the country, no matter where individuals in those communities may come from.

Our country is being tested and a swift, comprehensive response is imperative. UnidosUS will do its part to help ensure that we all get back on our feet as soon as possible. We will expect Congress and the president to do the same.

UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), is the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Through its unique combination of expert research, advocacy, programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico, UnidosUS simultaneously challenges the social, economic, and political barriers that affect Latinos at the national and local levels. For more than 50 years, UnidosUS has united communities and different groups seeking common ground through collaboration, and that share a desire to make our country stronger. For more information on UnidosUS, visit www.unidosus.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Contact:
Kristel Mucino
news@unidosus.org
(202) 776-1766