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Photo: Brittany Valentine/Al Día News
Photo: Brittany Valentine/Al Día News

Biden comes to Philly for Dem retreat ahead of daunting midterms

The president and his party talked about the American Rescue Plan Act, and how to absorb the blow they’re likely to take in November of this year.

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On Friday, March 11, President Joe Biden visited Philadelphia to speak at the Democratic Caucus Issues Conference, marking the one-year anniversary of signing the American Rescue Plan into law.

During his keynote address, Biden reflected on what life was like for many Americans before the law was passed and COVID-19 vaccines were not yet readily available.

“Few pieces of legislation — no hyperbole — in American history have done more to lift this country out of a crisis than what you did,” Biden said, adding that it was done without the help of any GOP members.

Immigration failure

But despite Democratic control of the Senate and the White House, the human rights violations against migrants at the U.S. southern are as prevalent as ever before, and many are disappointed that Biden hasn’t fulfilled his immigration-related campaign promises.

For instance, Biden promised a clear pathway to permanent legal status for the nation’s 11 million undocumented residents, as well as an end to privatized immigration detention.

Not only did the pathway to citizenship not arrive, but the Biden administration expanded ICE detention in Pennsylvania.

As Biden arrived at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing at 11 a.m., he was met by about 50 immigrant rights advocates from multiple organizations, including Shut Down Berks Coalition, CASA, Juntos, and Woori Center.

“I am here to say enough is enough! We are part of a large & diverse community in Philly tired of being used by Biden & other politicians to get into positions of power, only to break their promises. We should not forget how they treat us,” said Erika Guadalupe, executive director of Juntos.

The protesters are demanding an end to ICE detention across the country and the immediate release of all detained individuals.

“We had high hopes last year, it has been a year of fighting for a path to citizenship. But Biden, you have failed us on every front. Democrats, you have given in to racism and xenophobia of the GOP. Instead you have increased detention in PA,” said Mel Lee, Director of Woori Center.

A visit to Luis Muñoz-Marín Elementary

Later in the afternoon, Biden visited Hon. Luis Muñoz-Marín Elementary, a public school in North Philadelphia, where he met with students and teachers to talk about how the American Rescue Plan has supported the school, in part by expanding an art program. 

The White House told CNN that the School District of Philadelphia received $1.1 billion from the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

The funds are being used for facilities, mental health support, and before-school, after-school, and summer programs.

Biden first arrived in a library, where a huge banner was hung above the bookshelves, reading “Welcome Mr. President.”

One third grader thanked the president for helping students return to in-person learning after a year of virtual classes.

“In computers, it was hard to learn. In person, you can see your friends and hug them and you can learn more,” the student said.

Biden agreed: “Makes a big difference being in school than on a computer, doesn’t it?” he said.

In his next stop on the tour, Biden sat down with students in a Spanish class. Accompanying him was Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

“I am Puerto Rican, and my grandparents came from Puerto Rico and they were very poor and had nothing. My parents went to school here and I was the first one to go to college because of my grandparents' sacrifice,” Cardona said to the students in Spanish. 

“Now I am Secretary of Education and I work with President Biden. You can do it too! You can be president. So go ahead with your studies and keep speaking Spanish and English. Be bicultural and be bilingual,” Cardona said. 

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