News Release

UnidosUS President and CEO: Senate Relief Bill for Coronavirus Crisis Offers Unprecedented Aid, but More Needs to Be Done to Protect Working Families

‘We need to keep putting workers and families first’

March 26, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC—UnidosUS (formerly known as the National Council of La Raza), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, applauds the work of Senate leaders who worked to ensure that the stimulus legislation, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), includes urgently needed relief for American workers and their families, small businesses, nonprofit organizations and hospitals as well as local health systems. UnidosUS also strongly supports the inclusion of greater transparency and accountability for those businesses receiving relief funds and the significant expansion of benefits to assist the growing numbers of unemployed Americans.

“An unprecedented health and economic crisis requires urgent, significant, bipartisan action, and the Senate delivered that. Families and workers from across the country are suddenly facing unemployment and worried about staying healthy, paying their bills, feeding their families and keeping their homes,” says UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía. “I am gratified to see that some of the policy and relief priorities developed by UnidosUS in response to the pandemic are included. We are committed to helping to ensure the effective implementation of these provisions so that all workers and their families receive the aid they so desperately need and deserve.”

The CARES Act would provide significant relief to workers hardest hit by the crisis. Many of the priority areas we asked Congress to address are included in the deal. For instance:

  • $260 billion for full paycheck replacement to ensure that laid-off workers receive 100 percent of their wages through several months of the crisis.
  • The removal of needless barriers to unemployment insurance (UI) and allows part-time and self-employed workers to access UI benefits.
  • $1,200 in direct payments to taxpayers with incomes up to $75,000 per year, before starting to phase out and ending altogether for those earning more than $99,000. Families would receive an additional $500 per child to further strengthen the safety net for those whose jobs and businesses are affected by the pandemic.
  • A temporary halt on evictions and foreclosures and new funds for emergency rental assistance to help people stay in their homes.
  • Loan forgiveness grants for small businesses and nonprofits to meet payroll obligations and help pay for expenses like rent, mortgage and utilities.
  • Significant aid for hospitals and local health care systems, desperately needed by the brave men and women working in the health care sector to care for the sick and protect us from the worst of this pandemic.
  • Much needed aid to Puerto Rico, including stimulus payments to residents of the Island, $200 billion in nutrition assistance and aid allocated to the territories to respond to the pandemic.
  • The recognition in several areas the importance of providing support services in other languages, such as in housing and through relief to small businesses.
  • $750 million for Head Start to sustain early learning programs for our youngest students.
  • $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts and institutions of higher education to help provide online learning for all students, including English learners, and grants to college students for food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care.

Although the Senate package will provide much needed peace-of-mind to workers and families across the country whose lives have been turned upside down by this unprecedented situation, this is only the beginning of the assistance required to ensure Coronavirus testing and treatment for everyone who needs it and to heal the economic wounds inflicted on our nation.

In the coming days and weeks, UnidosUS will be working alongside our Affiliates across the nation to ensure our national leaders deliver health care and economic aid to families in all of America’s diverse communities. Our future policy priorities include:

  • Easier access to emergency Medicaid. Given the magnitude of the health crisis, all individuals should have ready access to coronavirus testing and treatment, including the uninsured and underinsured, regardless of immigration status.
  • Robust funding of housing counseling services that Latinos and other families will need to access available housing relief and resources, including those enacted in this bill.
  • Direct relief payments to all taxpayers, including those of mixed immigration status families, who include millions of children who are U.S. citizens. This would extend such support to those families expected to be disproportionately hit by this emergency and help to further boost local economies.
  • Spanish-language and culturally relevant information about COVID-19 testing and treatment and economic relief comprehensively incorporated in the pandemic response, especially regarding financial support, housing, health care and education programs.
  • Automatic renewal of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) held by those currently eligible to work, such as DACA and TPS holders. With U.S. immigration offices around the country closed indefinitely, those with expiring work permits may needlessly face unemployment and financial uncertainty throughout the pandemic.
  • Student debt relief while many individuals are unable to make payments due to temporary loss of employment.
  • Provisions to halt the growing achievement gap experienced by Latinos and ensure that schools in neighborhoods with the highest needs have the required resources to provide quality instruction to students in this challenging environment.
  • Further investment in and expansion of SNAP. This includes a needed increase in the benefit allotment for SNAP and expansion of Disaster SNAP so that all who need assistance can receive it.

“Much more will be needed soon to protect vulnerable families from the worst impacts of the coronavirus health crisis,” says Murguía. “If we are going to get through this together, and build a stronger America, we need to provide testing and treatment of the disease to all families and include all families in the relief effort.”

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:
Christopher Allbritton
news@unidosus.org
(202) 776-1575