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Biden Senior Adviser Says Economic Plan Targets Left And Right-Leaning Haitian Voters

The Miami Herald
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the first primary debate for the 2020 elections at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami on Thursday, June 27, 2019.

During a visit to Miami’s Little Haiti last week, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden courted the active Haitian voting bloc. A previous campaign stop by Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden's running mate, was seen among Haitian leaders as a missed opportunity.

Haitian leaders felt neglected by the campaign. But Karen Andre, a senior adviser to the Biden-Harris ticket, wants to quell those concerns.

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Andre, a Haitian-American attorney, says representation within the Biden campaign is part of a much broader effort to not only appeal to Haitian sensibilities but to put forth policy initiatives that cater the left and right-leaning Haitian voters.

The Lift Every Voice plan within Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, Andre says, pledges to support policies like temporary protected status, or TPS.

“One of the first things he'll do in his [first] 100 days is stop deportations,” Andre said.

Last month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump administration can end TPS for tens of thousands of Haitians, a move that could force mass deportations and separate U.S.-born children from their parents.

Touting Biden’s “long-standing relationships” in the community, Andre said the former vice president “worked closely with the Haitian Diaspora on relief efforts” during the 2010 earthquake, meeting with Haitians in Miami to announce TPS and reunification programs.

Andre says the plan aims to build a socio-economic safety net for Haitians and Black Americans. A “racial equity” push to make “finance and credit available to help break down the barriers to doing business with the government.”

She says the plan removes “obstacles to accessing credit and lending.” For now, there were no mention of any specific steps it would take to accomplish those plans on a local and national level.

The plan still presents some question marks when it comes to student loans or housing affordability. From U.S.-born millennials and Gen Zers to Haitian nationals, Haitian-American voters on social media are also placing emphasis on financial literacy, tech inclusivity, and economic empowerment and wonder what long-term impact the campaign’s proposals will have on them — using social media platforms to hold political campaigns up to task.

The multi-ethnic Black community in Florida encompasses people with varying levels of socio-economic interests, and voters who’ve grown disillusioned and skeptical of the Democratic party.

Despite perceived fractures in the party, Andre sees this election season as an opportunity to bridge ideological differences and create a shared political and economic agenda.

And that means courting the estimated 20 percent out of the 50,000 Haitian-American voters who cast their ballot for President Trump in 2016, many of whom now say the Trump administration hasn’t addressed their needs.

“They are even Republicans for Biden,” Andre said. “So even the Haitians who view themselves as Republican and don't feel comfortable with the disrespect that they've suffered under a Trump administration, there's a place for them at the table with Biden as well.”