Much noise has been made recently about President Barack Obama's delay in passing immigration reform—with some special interest groups going so far as to suggest that Latinos refrain from voting since the "Do-Nothing" Democrats haven't, well, done anything for us.
So we decided to take a look back at policy over the last two years to see what President Barack Obama has accomplished. What we found was actually very inspiring. The Obama administration has made positive strides on a number of key issues that are important to the Latino community, from education to health care.
- Taxes have been cut for 95% of working families.
- $15 billion has been invested in small business lending, with more than $1 billion going to Hispanic owned companies.
- The President signed the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (HIRE) into law, providing incentives for small businesses and non-profits with a strong track record of hiring Latinos to expand and hire more workers.
- The Wall Street Reform bill signed into law will help many Latino families by protecting against predatory financial services and creating better access to banking, credit and safer remittance providers.
- Established the Hardest Hit Fund to provide aid specifically for families in the states in most dire need after the economic crash—including many states where Latinos were most affected by the foreclosure crisis.
- Investments have been made in early education programs like Head Start.
- The Health Care & Education Reconciliation Act ensured increased affordability of higher education for over 150 thousand Latino students entering college.
- Created the American Graduation Initiative, which will provide $2 billion for two-year schools that enroll a lot of Latinos.
- The Race to the Top fund was announced in July of 2009, challenging schools to create programs for the future improvement of the education system in four areas: standards & assessment, recruiting and retaining quality teachers, turning around low performing schools, and establishing systems to track student success and teacher effectiveness.
- The Affordable Health Care Act will make health care more accessible and affordable for all of the estimated 9 million Latinos who currently don't have health care by 2014.
- Insurance coverage for immigrant children was expanded through the Children's Health Insurance Program, signed within the first few weeks of Obama's administration.
- New funding was provided for community health care centers across the country that provide critical resources and comprehensive health care for thousands of Latinos regardless of immigration or economic status.
- Created cuidadodesalud.gov, a Spanish language comprehensive overview of the new health care policies.
- Mandated that federal agencies, from the Dept. of Justice to the Dept. of Housing & Urban Development, strengthen civil rights policies to fight discrimination across the board.
- President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure fairness in pay for Latinas and other female workers.
- New laws were passed to help reduce the gap between mandatory federal sentencing relating to drug convictions, which have disproportionately affected men of color.
- A new Spanish language website was launched by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS.gov) with online tools that provide immigrants updates on their application status via web or text message.
- The Department of Homeland Security has implemented reforms to the detention system, prioritizing the safety of detainees.
- Prioritized the enforcement of immigration laws to focus on criminals and employers who hire undocumented workers.