The American people have cast their votes and rendered a verdict on who will lead Congress and the White House in the years ahead. Now it’s time for these policymakers to govern. With our nation – and the Hispanic community in particular – facing challenges on a number of fronts, we must take advantage of the opportunity to enact sensible reforms that knock down the barriers keeping people from succeeding.
While partisans on both sides typically focus on which party is up and which party is down, history shows that progress is possible regardless of who’s in charge. All it takes is a good idea, and people who are committed to coming together to do what’s right. The staff and activists of The LIBRE Initiative are dedicated to expanding opportunity for the Hispanic community and others, and we stand ready to work with anyone to accomplish that, just as we always have.
There are a range of issues that Congress and the president have failed to address in past years, even though polls have shown a broad consensus of Americans in support of policies to address them.
Right now the nation is understandably focused on coronavirus, which has hit the Hispanic community particularly hard, putting more of us out of work and causing serious economic harm. It’s the right time to give patients more control over their own health care, by making permanent the waivers that have helped millions to access telehealth services, and by expanding access to health savings accounts. Providing liability protections to businesses, hospitals, schools and charities that follow health guidelines will help the economy and encourage sound health practices.
These reforms will help give Americans the tools they need to recover stronger from the ongoing pandemic. Doing so will also encourage job creation and boost paychecks, which has to be a top priority. With so many in the Hispanic community struggling in the weak economy, policymakers must focus on limiting costly regulation, as well as unnecessary taxes and spending.
When government stays out of the way, we know that workers and entrepreneurs can create jobs and expand wealth. It also makes sense to repeal unnecessary occupational licensing laws, which prevent people from acquiring skills while helping build stronger communities. Protecting the rights of independent contractors to work on terms that they agree to would also be a positive step.
Immigration is another issue that Congress has been unwilling to address, and where updating our laws will boost the economy. We know that immigration is good for our nation, and that smart, hard-working immigrants are essential partners for creating jobs and making Americans better off. Sadly, our immigration laws have not been updated in decades, and presidents of both parties have resorted to unilateral executive orders to try to fix problems.
The reality is that the system badly needs updating. A workable legal immigration system will simplify the process for people to apply and immigrate through legal channels, reducing pressure on the border by reducing the incentive to come here illegally. There’s also strong bipartisan support for legislation to provide certainty to the Dreamers – young people brought here outside the law as children – so this is an area where Congress can act quickly.
Additionally, the pandemic has helped illustrate the shortcomings in our educational system and highlight the need for reform. It’s essential that our schools help kids discover, develop, and apply their unique talents while helping them building skills needed to truly become lifelong learners. To truly serve the best interests of parents, students, and educators, we should be looking for ways to help families customize their children’s education, rather than trying to deliver every kid exactly the same standardized content, in classrooms settings that oftentimes look strikingly similar to those of their parents and grandparents.
In coming together to work toward solutions, no one should imagine that the process will be simple, or without controversy. People of good faith on both sides of the aisle have deeply held beliefs, and they have them for good reasons. People won’t throw their convictions overboard – and they shouldn’t be expected to.
Instead, what we must hope for is a transparent and open debate that considers the best ideas from all sides in good faith, and which advances the best ideas that have broad support. That’s how we can continue to make progress on these reforms, as well as others, including continuing the good work on criminal justice reform, keeping America out of misguided conflicts abroad, minimizing the costly burden of tariffs, and defending our God-given freedoms are all issues where there is common ground.
If our elected officials are committed to moving the ball forward on better policies, the American people are ready to support smart policy. And the team of The LIBRE Initiative will be ready to support that effort.
Note: We selected this Op-Ed to be published in our opinion section as a contribution to public debate. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of its author(s) and do not reflect the views or the editorial line of Univision News.