By Lucia Leal
Washington, Mar 16 (efe-epa).- United States President Joe Biden and the Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday focused on addressing the pandemic challenges faced by small business owners of minority communities, as controversy grew over Biden’s management of the situation at the Mexico border.
Biden began his tour in Pennsylvania to promote the recently approved $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan, while Harris completed the second stop on her own route in Denver, Colorado, to promote the stimulus package, which began Monday in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Both focused on small businesses, with Biden visiting Smith Flooring, run by a Black couple in Chester, Pennsylvania, while Harris went to an Argentinian-run restaurant in Denver called Maria Empanada.
“The hardest hit are people in the minority communities,” said Biden, adding that people from Latino and Black communities contract and die of Covid-19 at rates “significantly higher” than caucasians.
Harris stressed the need to take into account racial disparities during her trip to Denver, where she visited the empanada restaurant of Lorena Cantarovici, an Argentinian immigrant who had to lay off her employees when the pandemic began.
Cantarovici said she has been able to rehire 80 percent of her staff thanks to the loans included in the stimulus package, and the vice president replied that it is companies like hers that empower each community.
The rescue plan recently signed by Biden contains $50 billion to keep small businesses afloat, and the president said that he is expanding the loan program to these types of companies so that it reaches all those who need it.
“More help is on the way, for real,” Biden said.
Delivery of the one-time checks of $1,400 for 85 percent of the country’s taxpayers are expected to start Wednesday, and Biden is confident that it will not only revitalize the economy, but the country’s confidence in his management and that of the Democrats in Congress.
However, the migration crisis on the border with Mexico is taking away attention from Biden’s tour, and the president had to clarify Tuesday that he has no plans to visit the border area soon to oversee the challenge generated by the influx of undocumented minors and families in recent weeks.
“Not at the moment,” Biden responded to a journalist’s question as to whether he plans to visit the border soon.
The president has received some criticism for traveling to promote the stimulus plan, but not to study the situation in person at the border, to which the White House has responded that Biden is focused on “developing solutions.”
According to CBS News, more than 4,200 unaccompanied migrant children remained Sunday in short-term detention facilities of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), including some not suitable to house minors.
Biden earlier this month sent a large delegation of his advisers to visit the border in the state of Texas and has taken several measures, such as mobilizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency for 90 days to serve minors.
However, the White House has resisted describing the situation on the border as a “crisis,” which the Republican opposition does, although it recognizes the seriousness of the problem.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned in a statement Tuesday that “we are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.” EFE-EPA