The country’s top religious leaders said the government should release more emergency aid for the island and expand federal programs like the Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicare.
The nation’s top religious leaders asked Joe Biden to drop a lawsuit filed by Donald Trump that blocks $ 2.3 billion in supplemental income payments to some 300,000 Puerto Ricans, a measure that affects the elderly, blind and disabled.
Roberto González de San Juan, Catholic Archbishop, director of Catholic Charities USA, asked the president to use executive orders and support congressional action to create more pharmaceutical and manufacturing jobs on the island, a US territory that has been affected by the pandemic. of the new coronavirus. Leaders from other churches also joined in this request.
They said the Biden administration should also release more emergency aid for the island and expand federal programs such as the Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicare.
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“Almost 60% of the children of Puerto Rico, US citizens, live in poverty and would benefit from these measures,” they wrote in a letter that was delivered to the White House.
By the time the pandemic hit, Puerto Rico was already recovering from bankruptcy from the earthquakes and two devastating hurricanes of 2017.
Religious leaders welcomed the release by the Biden administration of some hurricane recovery funds. However, they said an additional $ 50 billion was needed.
The president campaigned against the current unsustainable situation in Puerto Rico and pledged to boost federal disaster aid, end discriminatory practices, and rebuild the island’s “significantly deficient infrastructure.”
But his administration has yet to end Donald Trump’s Justice Department lawsuit to block a federal appeals court ruling last year that allows eligible Puerto Ricans to apply for supplemental Social Security benefits.
Any US citizen living in any of the 50 states, Washington, DC, and the Mariana Islands, can qualify for benefits, but not Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam.
With information from Reuters