Ignored no more

José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: La Red Hispana

At this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is putting the public health system and the United States economy in check, no one doubts the significant contributions that the community of essential Latino workers has made throughout this tragic year.

In hospitals, farm fields, meatpacking companies, the hospitality industry, supermarkets, countless Latinas and Latinos have been and continue to risk their lives every day doing the essential jobs to bring food to our table or take care of our sick.

For this reason, it was particularly painful for many of these essential workers that when the first economic rescue packages were approved by Congress, mixed families were ignored, those made up of citizens of the United States, whose spouse is an undocumented immigrant.

Intense negotiations were required for mixed families to be included in the latest version of the economic rescue package approved in Congress and now they will be able to receive the benefit of a $600 check, to try to alleviate the burden that job loss has represented throughout the pandemic.

The new package also includes $300 a week for unemployment for 11 weeks, $284 billion from a new small business support package, $82 billion for schools and universities, $13 billion in nutritional assistance and $25 billion in rent help.

It is a fair result for all those people who deserve financial relief in the midst of the pandemic, but especially for those most vulnerable among us who have continued to perform essential jobs at an exceedingly high personal cost, since they have been disproportionately affected by cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations, and deaths.

It is obvious that the new economic rescue package will be insufficient to cover the needs of large sectors of the country that have been hit hard by the pandemic and its aftermath. That is why it should be seen as a preview of a more ambitious and generous package that can be promoted by the next government starting in January.

The Joe Biden administration, which takes office at noon on January 20, is expected to move with speed to present that new proposal to the new Congress.

Hopefully that plan has the same inclusive spirit as the latest economic rescue package. It is an act of elementary justice for all vulnerable families who continue to risk their lives for the good of all of us during the worst health emergency of our lives.