On Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, the author issued the following statement in response to President-elect Joe Biden, Jr.’s choice of Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico) for Secretary of the Interior:
Equally American applauds President-elect Biden’s choice of [Rep.] Deb Haaland to lead the Department of the Interior. Congresswoman Haaland has a distinguished record of leadership as vice chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over federal legislation for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
As America’s only public interest law organization fighting for equality for residents of U.S. territories, Equally American looks forward to partnering with President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and Secretary of the Interior-designate Haaland to serve the more than 4 million Americans who live in the territories—98% of whom are racial or ethnic minorities or indigenous peoples.
“Equally American encourages the incoming Biden-Harris administration to work with community and political leaders from the territories—especially leaders from underserved indigenous communities—to provide equal rights and fair treatment for residents of U.S. territories. We specifically urge the new administration to reject any continued reliance on the controversial Insular Cases, which for over a century have relegated those living in the territories to second-class status. We also urge the new administration to support Medicaid parity, Supplemental Security Income equality, voting rights, tax fairness, and the right of self-determination in each of the territories.
Neil Weare (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Neil Weare is president and founder of Equally American, a nonpartisan public interest law organization that works to advance equality and voting rights in U.S. territories.