Priorities for the Biden-Harris Administration's
First 100 Days: Climate and Disaster Relief

The racism that people have been marching in the streets against and the undeniable fact that racism (and colonialism) are social determinants of health are not unrelated. Racism also plays a determining role in environmental policies regarding land use, zoning, and regulations. Latinx and other frontline communities must provide leadership for solutions to these issues in our communities. We must speak for ourselves.

Communities like ours, that have already been marginalized by structural barriers to equal opportunities and have low levels of wealth, are particularly vulnerable during all emergencies, whether natural disasters, economic downturns, or a health pandemic like the one caused by COVID-19. In order to respond to the crisis being faced by Latinos due to COVID-19, as well as to address other issues negatively impacting Hispanic and immigrant communities across the country, we urge the Biden-Harris administration to implement the following policies as soon as possible.

Primeros 100 Actions:

  • Support an immediate, urgent, and comprehensive response across the federal government to the climate crisis facing Latino communities and the planet with a persistent focus on the gendered impacts of climate change.

  • Appoint Latinos to leadership positions with responsibility for crafting new environmental regulations and engage Latinos and frontline communities in the development of environmental laws, policies, and regulations.

  • Appoint Latinos to leadership positions in your White House and across Agencies to lead and oversee solutions to the challenges caused by years of environmental racism.

  • Oppose efforts by fossil fuel allies in Congress to undermine bedrock environmental protections, such as the Clean Air Act or the National Environmental Policy Act, instead choosing policies that help us build back better and recover from COVID-19 by making fair and equitable investments, supporting hardest hit communities, and supporting frontline workers while investing in policies that protect our health and environment.

Puerto Rico Disaster Relief

  • Ensure disaster relief and other federal funds - including funds intended for COVID relief - are distributed and released in a timely and legal manner, without additional restrictions and barriers to access that are not required of other post-disaster entities.

  • Allocate and distribute funds appropriated by Congress to Puerto Rico for rebuilding and restarting the island’s education system without imposing additional controls that are not required of other local governments.

  • Activate a White House Puerto Rico Task Force as quickly as possible with expanded responsibilities to include providing advice to the President and the Congress on policies and initiatives for Puerto Rico’s disaster reconstruction, mechanisms to promote and monitor implementation of the Task Force’s recommendations across agencies, and that full-time staff be assigned to support the work of the Task Force.

  • Seek parity in all federal benefits, especially those intended to provide benefits to low- income Puerto Ricans and alleviate poverty such as EITC, CTC, Pandemic EBT, and end all federal block grant programs including Medicaid and NAP.

  • Support a pathway to comprehensive debt relief and the ability to terminate debt obligation so territories can recover and rebuild with dignity. Any benefits of projected federal disaster dollars should only be used for the benefit of the people of Puerto Rico – not the vulture funds and other creditors.

  • Ensure the Stafford Act’s preference for local funding for local recovery is followed and that federal agencies are given additional incentives to provide contracts to Puerto Rico businesses, an independent audit is performed and certified by nongovernmental experts, and discharge of any illegal or unconstitutional debt is allowed.

  • Establish a moratorium on negotiations or repayment of existing debt until the federal government has ensured an independent audit is performed and certified by nongovernmental experts and discharge of any illegal or unconstitutional debt is allowed.

  • Strengthen and improve Puerto Rico’s power system, including modernizing PREPA’s power generation, transmission, and distribution systems through necessary infrastructure investments by prioritizing renewables and make long term investments needed to achieve Puerto Rico’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

  • Halt austerity measures imposed on Puerto Rico by the federal budgetary oversight board in the PROMESA legislation, which have resulted in school closures and decreased funding for the island’s public university system.

  • Establish a process that ensures transparency in decisions, allocations, and contracts by all government agencies at every level to avoid corruption and favoritism and ensure meaningful community participation and appropriate allocation of resources.

  • Direct the Census Department to include Puerto Rico in all Census activities, especially the Household Pulse Surveys in order to get a timely and accurate picture of critical needs.

  • Ensure that federal relief, remediation and reconstruction funds are inclusive of, and targeted and accessible to, local community-based nonprofits who continue to be at the forefront of uplifting families and neighborhoods across the island and building a stronger and more resilient Puerto Rico.

Recommend Executive Orders or Actions

  • Direct the Dept. of Justice to end appeals of the Federal District Court’s determination that residents of Puerto Rico should be eligible for the SSI program. 

Read the full letter outlining our priorities for Latino and immigrant communities for the Biden-Harris Administration’s First 100 Days.