President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion proposed infrastructure plan would have a potential large impact on the Latino population in the United States – especially the Latino community in the west side of Phoenix, some believe.
During a Sept. 9 press conference at the Chicanos Por La Causa Maryvale Service Center, 6850 W. Indian School Road, two advocacy groups that are part of the national Care Can’t Wait campaign spoke in support of Biden’s “human infrastructure bill.”
UnidosUS Action Fund Executive Director Rafael Collazo, was among those who said the plan, which the Biden Administration has called Build Back Better, would have an impact on Arizonans.
UnidosUS Action Fund and Chicanos Por La Causa Action Fund are advocacy organizations that work to expand political influence and address social justice issues and policy issues that matter most to the Latino community.
“Human infrastructure is a difficult concept to grasp,” Phoenix City Councilor Betty Guardado said. “But when we invest in people. We are investing in communities.”
Guardado said the Biden Administration plan would benefit Latino communities, help women reenter the workforce and set them up for success.
Biden’s effort is a three-part plan that included the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 pandemic relief effort, a $1.2 trillion physical infrastructure effort in the proposed American Jobs Plan, and a separate $3.5 trillion effort aimed at providing a variety of measures that expand infrastructure spending into areas such as health care, family help and child care.
The pandemic caused industries such as “hospitality, education, entertainment and even some parts of the health care system” to collapse, and with the responsibility of caregiving falling onto women, they were left with the decision to leave work in large part because of the gender and wage gap in the labor force, according to the New York Times.
The pandemic directly affected women predominantly employed in those industries, these organizations say.
According to Care Can’t Wait, last September, “865,000 women left the workforce,” and women accounted for “all of the net job losses” last December.
Although she may not have lost her job at Valle del Sol in Phoenix, Angela Florez, 44, and her family were impacted when her mother had a stroke in January 2021 that left her entire left side paralyzed.
“It kicked off a series of decisions that we felt ill equipped to make,” Florez said.
Florez said she and her family looked into “patient advocacy services” that would cost them “$5,000 to $15,000” for a lawyer.
Florez, her husband and her father ultimately decided to become those “patient advocates” themselves and took on the physical therapy and therapeutic support on their own, according to Florez.
Other than demanding affordable child care systems, paid family and medical leave among other economic recovery programs, the Care Can’t Wait agenda urges that $450 billion should be invested in Medicaid’s Home and Community-based Services to protect direct care jobs, aid people with disabilities and aging adults, and support unpaid family caregivers so they may rejoin the workforce.
CPLC Action Fund Executive Director Joseph Garcia was among the Arizona leaders and experts present at the community service center.
Garcia added that Arizona’s Latino community was hit the hard during the pandemic both physically and economically.
“It’s been called the Build Back Better plan. It’s been called the largest social investment since President Johnson’s Great Society program from the 1960s. It’s been called the human infrastructure package. Now some are saying it’s something that we cannot afford,” Garcia said. “I say we cannot afford to not pass this important legislation.”
Madeline Bautista is a journalism student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.