Things That Matter

Pete Buttigieg Highlights Job Opportunities And Economic Benefit Of Infrastructure Plan For Minority Communities

The U.S. is in need of major infrastructure investment and the Biden administration is ready to do it. The $2 trillion plan includes targeting water systems, transportation infrastructure, and broadband among other aspects of America’s infrastructure. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg spoke with mitú about the ambitious plan.

The Biden administration is poised to deliver one of the most ambitious infrastructure investments.

President Biden and his team want to give a post-pandemic economy a chance to recover. The way the administration plans to do this is by investing like never before into the infrastructure. The infrastructure plan unveiled by the Biden administration is focusing on more than the physical infrastructure in the U.S.

“The first thing I would say [is different] is the scale of it. We’ve built up about a trillion-dollar backlog just in terms of fixing things up like roads and bridges in this country,” Secretary Pete Buttigieg says. “Of course, it’s not enough to fix up what we have. We have to be ready for the future. This is a bill that understands that digital infrastructure is part of the infrastructure. There are a lot of Americans without broadband in rural areas, but a lot of Black and brown Americans in our cities lack internet access and that cuts you off from opportunity the same as if you don’t have a road where you live. We’re thinking about the future.”

The plan will invest money into the nation’s infrastructure in multiple ways.

The plan will give $621 billion toward the traditional infrastructure like roads, bridges, public transit, as well as the latest need in electric vehicle developments. Around $400 billion will be delivered to help care for elderly and disabled Americans. The administration’s plan includes $300 billion to focus on water systems, expanding broadband access, and upgrading electrical grids. Another $300 billion will be used for retrofitting affordable housing and upgrading schools. The last $580 billion will be going towards manufacturing and job training efforts.

Secretary Buttigieg says that the plan is looking towards the future.

It’s about more than creating an infrastructure for today, it is about future-proofing our society. This means investing in broadband so rural and minority communities have reliable access to the internet. It also means addressing infrastructure for the changing climate.

“It also means dealing with the fact that the future means a different climate. We are going to fight climate change,” Secretary Buttigieg says. “We also have to deal with the realities we have right now. If a road gets washed out because the sea level rose, putting it right back so it can get washed out again is probably not the right answer. We have to think about what it looks like in the future.”

The plan will also provide good-paying jobs.

The plan would require employing people to help build the bridges and roads and the broadband infrastructure. Jobs that come with good compensation, unions, and don’t require college degrees to get. The jobs would spread across the country as the U.S. modernizes the outdated infrastructure. However, there are more jobs that will be unlocked for people who have been disadvantaged by the current infrastructure system.

“Your commute is going to be better because we’re going to have better transit. Right now, when you have to commute two-hours both ways because you don’t have a car and the transit system is not very good, that’s really hurting economic opportunities for individuals, worker, families, often lower income workers,” Secretary Buttigieg says.

He adds: “Part of how we create more of an opportunity economically in the future is to just make it easier to get to where you need to be. So, yes, there are jobs working on the projects, but there are also just the projects that we are going to unlock by making it easier to get around.”

The Biden administration proposes an increase to 28 percent. The current corporate tax rate is 21 percent. Secretary Buttigieg says that the proposed corporate tax rate might seem like an increase but it was only recently dropped to 21 percent from its usual 35 percent. The reason for the increase is to pay for the plan without it falling on the shoulders of people making less than $400,000 a year.

“Somebody has got to pay for this and if it isn’t these giant corporations on their billions of dollars in profits, then it might be ordinary Americans,” Secretary Buttigieg explains. “We think that ordinary Americans are paying enough.”

READ: Joe Biden Has Outlined a Robust Plan to Rebuild the Economy Devastated By COVID-19

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Biden Administration Says Number Of Kids In Border Custody Drops 84% Over Last Month

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Biden Administration Says Number Of Kids In Border Custody Drops 84% Over Last Month

John Moore/Getty Images

As recently as last month more than 5,000 children languished in jail-like conditions inside U.S. Border Patrol facilities, often for longer than the 72-hour limit set by federal law. But, according to the Biden administration, that number has dropped by 84% as the agencies charged with migrant detention make significant progress.

Questions remain, however, about where these children are being sent to instead and why there remains a need for jail-like conditions in the first place.

The number of kids in jail-like Border Patrol facilities drops 84% compared to March.

The number of unaccompanied migrant children held in jail-like conditions by US Customs and Border Protection dropped nearly 84% in the span of a month, according to a White House official. As of last Wednesday, there were 954 children in CBP facilities, down from a peak of 5,767 on March 28, the official told CNN.

The average time that kids are in CBP custody is now 28 hours, compared to 133 hours on March 28, the official said, a nearly 80% reduction in time spent in Border Patrol detention.

In an interview with NBC News this week, Biden suggested that the situation with unaccompanied children is now under control, saying, “It’s way down now. We’ve now gotten control,” and touted “significant change in the circumstances for children to and at the border.”

In recent weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for the care of migrant children, has opened up a string of temporary shelters to accommodate minors. That’s allowed for an increasing number of children being transferred out of border facilities to spaces equipped to care for them at a quicker pace.

The drop in children in custody is a welcome sign given the conditions they faced.

In some cases, children were alternating schedules to make space for one another in confined facilities and taking turns showering, often going days without one, while others hadn’t seen the sunlight in days.

While the administration works to address root causes of migration, it’s also had to contend with growing numbers of children in government custody. As of April 27, there were more than 22,276 children in HHS care, according to government data.

Biden on NBC again warned Central American parents against sending children to the US.”Do not send your kids, period. They’re most — they’re in jeopardy going– making that thousand-mile trek,” Biden said. “And so what we’re doing now is we’re going back to those countries in question where most of it’s coming from and saying, ‘Look, you can apply from your country. You don’t have to make this trek.”

The shift in strategy comes as a new poll shows Americans overwhelmingly support new immigration policy.

A vast majority of Americans approve of the idea of engaging countries abroad to address the causes of migration before it happens, according to a new nationwide poll released Thursday.

Pollster Civiqs found that 85 percent of survey respondents agreed that the United States needs to engage with other countries to address migration patterns.

On a partisan basis, 86 percent of Democrats and 87 percent of Republicans, as well as 81 percent of independents, agree with that approach, according to Civiqs, which conducted the poll for Immigration Hub, a progressive immigration advocacy group.

The poll found that 57 percent of Americans accept illegal immigration when the immigrants are fleeing violence in their home countries.

That support is lower for undocumented immigrants who come for other reasons; 46 percent agree with immigrants arriving illegally to escape poverty or hunger, while 36 percent do if the migrants are seeking to reunite with family members, and 31 percent do if the migrants are looking for jobs in the United States.

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Biden Nominates Texas Sheriff Ed Gonzalez To Lead ICE And Here’s Why That Matters

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Biden Nominates Texas Sheriff Ed Gonzalez To Lead ICE And Here’s Why That Matters

John Moore/Getty Images

For years now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been enforcing cruel and, in many opinions, illegal immigration policies that have affected the most vulnerable among us. And they’ve been doing it without a permanent leader who can be held accountable.

The Trump administration relied on interim leaders and deputy secretaries to head the sprawling and powerful agency. Now, President Biden has nominated a frequent outspoken Trump critic to lead the agency and many are hopeful there could be real change.

The White House has nominated Texas sheriff Ed Gonzalez to lead ICE.

President Joe Biden has nominated a Texas sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, to lead ICE. Gonzalez has been the sheriff of Harris County (parts of Houston, TX) since 2017, leading the state’s largest sheriffs department. He has led a team of 5,000 employees in the position and previously served 18 years with the Houston Police Department, rising to the rank of sergeant, according to his profile on his office’s website.

Gonzalez has also been a vocal critic of elements of former President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement policies.

Gonzalez is the second such critic to be selected by Biden for a senior position in the Department of Homeland Security, following the nomination two weeks ago of Tucson, AZ., Police Chief Chris Magnus to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Gonzalez has long been a voice of reason within law enforcement leading many to be hopeful for change.

During his first term as sheriff Gonzalez ended a program with ICE that trained 10 Harris County deputies to determine the immigration status of prisoners, and hold for deportation those in the country illegally.

As sheriff he also opposed Texas legislation requiring local law enforcement to determine individuals’ immigration status, according to The Texas Tribune. The legislation was viewed as targeting so-called “sanctuary cities.” Gonzalez, like many in law enforcement, said the approach would destroy trust and make their job protecting communities more difficult.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praised Biden’s pick in a statement Tuesday.

“Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is a strong choice for ICE Director,” Mayorkas said. “With a distinguished career in law enforcement and public service, Sheriff Gonzalez is well-suited to lead ICE as the agency advances our public safety and homeland security mission. I hope the Senate will swiftly confirm Sheriff Gonzalez to this critical position.”

ICE has long been missing a permanent director to lead the agency.

Gonzales would succeed Tae Johnson, who has been serving as acting ICE director since Jan. 13. He previously served as the agency’s deputy director.

ICE has not had a permanent director since 2017. The agency operated with five acting directors under the Trump administration. This comes as the Biden administration has faced challenges at the border, including a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing into the U.S.

The announcement of Gonzalez’s nomination comes on the heels of another major announcement from DHS. Mayorkas also announced Tuesday that he has directed ICE and Customs and Border Protection to place new limits on civil immigration enforcement actions in or near courthouses.

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