Will Biden End The Trump-era Block of Payments to Puerto Rico?

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Photo courtesy of CNBC.

During the Trump administration era, a lawsuit was filed to block $2.3 billion in payments for about 300,000 Puerto Ricans that are elderly, blind, and disabled.

The Catholic Archbishop of San Juan, Roberto Gonzalez, along with leaders from other churches, urged Biden to sign an executive order that would allow more manufacturing jobs in the commonwealth island.

Though Biden’s administration has proposed different legislation helping Puerto Rico, more needs to be done. The island has been hit by devastating hurricanes and earthquakes and has been deeply impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In a letter addressed to the White House on February 16, they said, “Nearly 60% of Puerto Rico’s children, U.S. citizens, live in poverty and would benefit from these measures.” Additionally, they asked for more relief aid and an expansion on federal programs like the Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicare. 

The executive director of Jubilee USA Network, Eric LeCompte, said this letter is to push for Puerto Ricans’ help. They’ve face “crisis after crisis, disaster after disaster,’ with little to no support by the United States over the last ten years.” 

Though Biden has moved to free up $1.3 billion in January, that goal has not yet been achieved. Still, leaders involved with the letter said the island needs $50 billion more to see an actual recovery of the land and its people.

One of Biden’s most memorable campaign propositions was the help that Puerto Rico would receive.  

Unsurprisingly, the Justice Department declined to comment, and there is still no word from the White House either. These payments have been available to citizens living in the U.S., Washington D.C., and the Mariana Islands, but are not available for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. 

It is inevitable to ask ourselves: What good is it for Puerto Ricans to continue to belong to a country that does not allow them self-determination and does not provide them with the necessary help to get ahead?