NEW YORK — President Joe Biden delivered his annual State of the Union address March 1, and gained support for his key points about the Russo-Ukrainian war. Biden also touched on a variety of issues and concerns affecting the American people, including immigration, inflation and COVID — issues that are at the forefront for many Haitian families.
Below are some of the subjects most relevant to Haitian-Americans, and reactions related to those topics from others.
Immigration: “If we are to advance liberty and justice, we need to secure the border and fix the immigration system. At our border, we’ve installed new technology like cutting-edge scanners to better detect drug smuggling.”
Tens of thousands of Haitian refugees were deported last year by the Biden administration at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Reaction: “The thousands of people who tried to seek legal refuge on our southern border, how Haitian refugees have been treated by the United States, not just in past administrations, but frankly this one, is not right,” said Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “We really need to make sure that when we talk about accepting refugees, that we are meaning it for everybody, no matter where you come from.”
Inflation: “With all the bright spots in our economy, record job growth and higher wages, too many families are struggling to keep up with the bills …that’s why my top priority is getting prices under control.”
Locally-owned Haitian businesses, such as restaurants in New York, have been bearing the brunt of inflation since last year.
Reaction: “The biggest problem for President Biden is that there’s no good way to message inflation,” said Jason Furman, a White House economic official under the Obama administration. “There’s not a lot he can do about it, but he can’t get up there and say ‘The only solution here is patience and the Federal Reserve.’”
COVID-19: “We must prepare for new variants. If necessary, we’ll be able to deploy new vaccines within 100 days instead of many more months or years.”
Haitian enclaves, like those in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood, suffered disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 infections.
Reaction: “Under POTUS’ leadership, hundreds of millions of Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19 — it saved lives … let’s use this moment to reset,” tweeted California Congressperson Eric Swalwell.
Health care: “The American Rescue Plan is helping millions of families on Affordable Care Act plans save $2,400 a year on their health care premiums. Let’s close the coverage gap and make those savings permanent.”
For years, Haitian immigrants have struggled with inaccessible treatment to health care and lower rates for insurance coverage.
Reaction: “The idea of passing some form of the bill may be alive, but it’s hanging by a thread — and the next few weeks are critical to see if lawmakers can jump-start the effort,” wrote Washington Post reporter Rachel Roubein.
Taxes: “Nobody earning less than $400,000 a year will pay an additional penny in taxes, not a single penny.”
The household income for Black immigrants was 16% lower than the average American, with unfair tax rates disproportionately affecting their populations.
Reaction: “On average, the top 10% of tax filers, or those earning more than $115,800, could see their after-tax income shrink if one version of Biden’s plan took effect,” according to CNN.