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

President Joe Biden’s first budget request for immigration and border issues is a stark reminder that your vote counts. For many people in our community, participation in civic life is still seen as a distant issue from our daily lives, an activity exclusive to politicians in Washington.

But Biden’s budget, which reverses many of the spending priorities of the Trump era and allocates unprecedented funds to serve unaccompanied migrant families and children, shows that for those who voted for a change in government immigration policies, your vote had a significant impact.

Another example is that President Biden decided to spend zero dollars to build new sections of Trump’s infamous wall on the border with Mexico.

Not only was it a pharaonic, burdensome, and unnecessary project, but it was becoming a sign of hostility from a part of the United States to immigrants in general and especially to the most vulnerable, asylum seekers.

But the president’s generosity did not stop there. Your budget request includes more than $3 billion for the agency that serves unaccompanied migrant minors, as well as asylum seekers, the majority from the countries of the northern triangle of Central America.

Concerned about the health of detained unaccompanied migrants, the president also requests $163 million for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to carry out medical evaluations and treatment for minors, as well as health follow-up activities and support for the management of infectious diseases, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As if that were not enough, the president asked for around $30 million to finance the program that is dedicated to reunifying migrant families who were separated at the border by President Trump’s controversial zero intolerance policy, in addition to $50 million to install new rescue devices that allow locating migrants in emergency situations at the border and resources for hiring 100 new immigration judges.

In the case of legal migration to the United States, the president requests $345 million from the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to reduce the existing backlog of hundreds of thousands of cases, in addition to expediting cases of so 125,000 refugees.

It is evident that the outcome of the last presidential elections marked a before and after in matters of immigration policy.

But you must be a citizen of the United States in order to vote or run, and there are still too many millions of legal permanent residents of Hispanic origin who have not taken that step. Let’s hope that what is happening in immigration matters is the best incentive to naturalize and take a step that can be decisive for the future of our Latino community.

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