With Hispanic Heritage month under way and amid last week’s Congressional Hispanic Caucus policy summit, the White House held a briefing outlining the president’s accomplishments for the Hispanic community as well as his plans for the future.
Although the briefing was “off the record,” informational booklets outlined the president’s dedication to the needs of the Hispanic community by describing his administration’s successes and his policy plans for the future.
The following is a brief overview of the steps the administration has taken that it believes has strengthened and will continue to improve the lives of Hispanics in America:
- Economy: The economy is important to all Americans, including Hispanics. The president describes his focus on clean energy, infrastructure development, and attracting businesses to America as ways he has helped strengthen the economy.
- Education Revitalization: The president is calling for the training and hiring of 100,000 new teachers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), affordable higher education, and immigration reforms for current college graduates to restore and rebuild our education system.
- Immigration: Americans and Hispanics have deeply divided opinions on what needs to be done to solve the immigration problem. The president too has struggled to come up with a plan to solve the immigration problem, however, his administration plans to continue pushing Congress to support plans similar to the Dream Act and others that, they claim, will provide much needed reforms.
- Affordable Homes: Foreclosures have impacted Hispanics more than most and the administration has maintained or enacted plans such as the program “Making Home Affordable,” which offers mortgage modification and refinancing options for homeowners, in order to reduce foreclosures and increase home ownership.
- Health Care: Hispanics are among the least insured in the country and the president has attempted to change this by ensuring the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the Children’s Health Insurance programs.
- Veterans, Military Members, and their Families: More than 1.33 million Hispanics serve in our armed forces along with more than 1 million veterans of Hispanic origin. The administration claims its commitment to their needs and the needs of their families by increasing GI Bill benefits and ensuring top-notch health care services for service members.
- Puerto Rico: A territory of the U.S. since 1898, Puerto Rico has nearly 4 million American citizens as residents; 4 million additional citizens of Puerto Rican decent live within the U.S. The president signed an executive order insuring that the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico continues to seek solutions and provide recommendations on the status issue in Puerto Rico (i.e. whether to remain a commonwealth, become a state, or be an independent country) as well as other economic issues.
- The Importance of Latino Heritage: The president allowed for the creation of a commission dedicated to creating a national museum for Hispanics in Washington and designated a site in California as a National Historic Landmark, recognizing the life and work of César Chávez and other well-known Hispanics.
Although many of the president’s policy goals have yet to be implemented, those enacted have received mixed reviews, especially amongst Hispanics. If the president wishes to entice the highly sought after “Latino Vote,” his Administration will need to spend more time emphasizing previous successes as well as supporting legislation that will have mass appeal within the Hispanic community.