President Joe Biden (top picture) and Vice President Kamala Harris (lower picture, left) took their oath of office at our nation Capitol. They are eager to get started working for the American people.







The Biden presidency is one of special significance for Latino-Americans, both documented and undocumented. Harris (lower picture, left) herself was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (right), the first Latina American to serve on the country’s highest court.



BY JOE ARCE AND COREY CRABLE

A beleaguered and anxious but hopeful nation came together Wednesday to a new presidential administration, bringing with it a promise to unite a deeply divided country amid a global pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans and decimated the economy.


Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C. Kamala Harris made history as the first female and the first person of African-American and South Indian descent to rise to the office of vice president.


Tens of thousands of National Guardsmen descended upon the nation’s capital as fences topped with razor wire encircled the U.S. Capitol building following an armed insurrection by domestic terrorists two weeks ago. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have laid blame on outgoing President Donald Trump for inciting the mob with a rally speech laced with fiery rhetoric.


In his first words to the nation as its 46th president, Biden acknowledged the deepening divides in American lives.


“Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed,” Biden said in his inaugural address. “A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.”


The Biden presidency is one of special significance for Latino-Americans, both documented and undocumented. Harris herself was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina American to serve on the country’s highest court.


Biden promised to celebrate and embrace America’s diversity, saying that unity is necessary now more than ever.


“We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos,” Biden said to the crowd. “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail. We have never ever, ever, ever failed in America when we’ve acted together.”


Meanwhile, officials at all levels of government hailed Biden’s arrival to the White House while reminding the new president of the work needed to be done on behalf of all marginalized Americans.


U.S. Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver II (D-MO) urged Biden and Harris to take action immediately on extending eviction moratoriums put into place during an unprecedented spike in nationwide unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, emergency funds earmarked for rental assistance have yet to be disbursed to states by the federal government.


“I write to highlight an acute housing issue the administration will likely face as soon as they assume office. Emergency rental assistance funding and guidance has yet to be issued by the outgoing administration to state and local governments,” Cleaver wrote in a letter to Biden’s Chief of Staff, Ron Klein. “The Department of Treasury must disburse these funds and issue guidance quickly to prevent a housing displacement crisis. Many in my district are facing eviction during this pandemic and require the swift intervention of the incoming administration to avert a potentially devastating outcome.”


The letter also stated that Cleaver “is calling on the Biden Administration to provide guidance that would strengthen the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium, as some local courts have allowed evictions to continue.”


On the subject of immigration, organizations at the local, state and federal levels called for sweeping immigration reform after substantive damage done to immigrant communities in previous administrations. The New Ellis Island Border Policy Group specifically referenced the Trump administration, which it says subjected border communities to “four years of relentless persecution, racism, and xenophobia that hurt millions of families … particularly among immigrants, Black people, and communities of color.”


Panelists representing the immigrant advocacy group America’s Voice hailed the new Biden administration but called for the president to work swiftly to undo damage to the immigrant families harmed by the Trump administration’s policies and actions.


“In order to heal, move forward, and let all of us as a nation thrive, the incoming Biden administration must provide bold programs to protect and uplift immigrants,” wrote Greisa Martinez, executive director of United We Dream. “We are demanding that Biden take a clear and bold stand on immigration. The time for compromises that harm people is over. The time for change is now.”


Added Silky Shah, executive director of Detention Watch Network, “We must remain steadfast to dismantle the systems in this country that are rooted in white supremacy and xenophobia. An entire overhaul of the enforcement system is necessary, a focus on protection rather than punishment should be paramount.”


Biden promised the crowd that he would he govern all people – both his supporters and his critics – with bold action, and that America would pass the myriad tests with which it has been faced.


“Folks, this is a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy and on truth. A raging virus. Growing inequity. The sting of systemic racism. A climate in crisis. America’s role in the world,” Biden said. “Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways, but the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we’ve had. Now we’re going to be tested. Are we going to step up, all of us? It’s time for boldness, for there’s so much to do.”


Locally, at least one Trump supporter says he will pray for Biden and Harris as they begin their work. Fabian Shepard, chairman of the Johnson County Republican Party, also criticized harmful rhetoric from both ends of the political spectrum.


“Just like I prayed for this president and President Obama, I’ll also say prayers for President Biden,” Shepard said. “My hope is that all of the leaders in Washington can understand their rhetoric is dangerous to this country. … I’ve been talking about overcoming the rhetoric for the last four years, when people on the left said people should resist (Trump). That has been harmful to America.”


Tommy Herrera of Shawnee, KS, who voted for Biden, said he feels confident that the multiple crises faced by the new administration can be addressed, but that Biden and Harris must rise to them with bold, decisive action.


“We have to begin to listen to one another. People feel left out, forgotten, like they haven’t been heard,” Herrera said. “We’re experiencing crisis with COVID and deaths. There is job loss and evictions. It’s unheard of -- one in five children in this country is going to bed hungry. President Biden and his team have their work cut out for them, but I’m confident that they are the right people for this time. This is going to be a huge undertaking. … They need to hit the road running.”


Biden, in his inaugural address, made it clear that he understood the gravity of the moment.


“This is a great nation. We are good people. And over the centuries through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we’ve come so far. But we still have far to go,” Biden said. “We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.”