As the nation passes through a difficult economic period, MALDEF has worked closely with our partners in the civil rights community to address many of the challenges facing Latino workers and families. For Latinos, the economic downturn has been especially difficult as families struggle to keep their homes and workers are being laid off with limited opportunities for future employment. The challenges ahead will not be easy and MALDEF will work with partners in Congress and the Obama Administration to ensure that full economic recovery reaches the Latino community.
Troubled Assets Relief Program
In September 2008, the Bush Administration and Congress sought to provide relief to struggling banks through the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Legislation in the United States Congress focused on providing assistance to banks struggling to stay afloat as a result of the foreclosure crisis. Because the root of the current economic crisis lies in the ability of homeowners to pay their mortgages, MALDEF, in partnership with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and others in the civil rights community, reached out to Congress to seek assistance for homeowners. In particular, MALDEF sought inclusion of provisions to allow homeowners facing foreclosure the ability modify their loans. Though the final bill only provided for voluntary loan modification by banks, MALDEF is continuing to work with Congress to address the needs of the thousands of Latino homeowners that are facing foreclosure.
In October 2008, MALDEF reached out to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on the implementation of the TARP program. In partnership with our friends at the New America Alliance, MALDEF requested that the Secretary provide meaningful opportunities to women and minority-owned businesses in the implementation of the program. The over 2.2 million Latino-owned businesses play a critical role in our economy and must be included in the recovery of our nation’s markets. MALDEF will continue to work with Obama Administration Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner to advocate for inclusion of women and minority-owned businesses in any federal rescue plan.
American Recovery & Reinvestment Act
In early February 2009, President Barack Obama signed in to law the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, which seeks to stimulate our nation’s struggling economy. This stimulus bill includes a variety of programs that will be helpful to Latino families, such an expanded Make Work Pay credit that assists low income workers, the expansion and modernization of unemployment insurance, and significant resources for state stabilization funds, which will ensure that critical state programs and benefits remain available. In addition, the stimulus includes large investments in job training and education. In partnership with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), MALDEF reached out to the Administration and Congress early in the drafting of the stimulus bill to ensure that the concerns of Latino workers and families were addressed.
U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) were critical partners for the Latino community in the stimulus debate. Rep. Grijalva introduced an amendment to the Rules Committee in the United States House of Representatives to target stimulus funds for English language learners and farmers. Though unsuccessful, this amendment highlights the needs of our community in the current economy and will be helpful for future advocacy on implementation and distribution of stimulus funds. Sen. Menendez was successful in stopping anti-immigrant amendments concerning Employer Electronic Verification System (E-Verify) and ensuring that the Make Work Pay tax credit includes immigrant taxpayers.
The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act includes much needed support for Latino workers and families. Upon implementation of the stimulus, the Obama Administration must work to ensure that resources invested in job training and education reach Latino workers and children. MALDEF will continue to work with Congress and the Obama Administration to assist with this implementation of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act in order to ensure that full recovery reaches our community.