Washington, Feb 28 (EFE).- Hundreds of students gathered on Tuesday before the US Supreme Court building in Washington to show their support for President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive a portion of their student debt.
The nine magistrates on the high court, six of whom are conservatives, began hearing oral arguments in the case in which they are examining the legality of Biden’s plan, which has been criticized by Republicans.
The Supreme Court must determine whether the US Department of Education has the authority to grant partial forgiveness of federal education loans to students.
As the justices were hearing the oral arguments, hundreds of students gathered outside the court building to show their support for the plan that would benefit some 40,000 people, granting them a total of about $40 billion in loan forgiveness.
Among the demonstrators was Jesus Garcia, 32, who traveled to the nation’s capital from Los Angeles and camped out overnight along with other demonstrators to be able to secure for himself a place in the courtroom for the oral arguments.
Garcia racked up student debt of $150,000 while pursuing his studied in public policy and thinks he’ll be trying to pay it off for as long as he lives.
“This year, I tried to get a loan to buy my first home, just a room and a bathroom, and I couldn’t because I have the student debt,” Garcia told EFE, adding that it’s impossible for him to feel like he can get married for the same reason.
Fatima Russell, 19, has just started her first year at Howard University in Washington and is already $10,000 in debt, with that amount due to rise with every course she takes during her college career.
Russell is the first person in her family to go to college and feels that as a black woman she has things especially tough, given that this ethnic and gender group has the highest student debt.
Not helping or wanting black women to advance is another way of not making progress in the US, she told EFE, adding that she has a responsibility to her sisters and female cousins to set an example for them.
If her student debt ultimately is not forgiven, Russell calculates that she’ll still be paying it off when she’s 50.
The protest was organized by more than 20 groups, including the Student Debt Crisis Center, and that organization’s managing director, 25-year-old Sabrina Calazans, blames the Republicans who are fighting against cancelling this debt, saying that “it’s legal” and they shouldn’t be making it a partisan political issue.
Calazans, who said that she still lives with her parents, has $30,000 in student debt and Biden’s plan would forgive $20,000 of it, something that she says would help her and her family craft a better future for themselves.
Democrats like Congressman Maxwell Frost and Sen. Bernie Sanders attended the demonstration to lend their support to a cause that affects the “future of the United States” and to encourage the protesters to fight for economic, racial, environmental and social justice.
Last August, Biden announced that he was going to forgive part of the debt that millions of college students had built up with the US government as a result of receiving federal loans, a nod toward the youth vote before the Nov. 8 mid-term elections.
The president announced that he would cancel up to $20,000 per student in debt, although the measure will only benefit those who earn less than $125,000 per year or who, if they are married, earn less than $250,000 when their salary is combined with that of their spouse.