Latino members of Biden’s Cabinet defend policies on Covid, immigration

Latino members of President Joe Biden’s Cupboard defended his insurance policies to regulate the pandemic, saying he is improved vaccination charges and restricted immigration on the southern border to guard public well being in the US.

The coronavirus has disproportionately impacted Latino households, decimated many roles and small companies, and threatened latest beneficial properties in Latino academic attainment — specifically, school completion charges.

The administration has been underneath fireplace for denying entry to the U.S. to 1000’s of Haitians and different principally Central People, persevering with a Trump-era public well being order to expel migrants and their households.

Whereas defending these insurance policies, the Cupboard members touted administration initiatives on healthcare and training entry, and progress on infrastructure and assist to working households.

MSNBC “American Voices” host Alicia Menendez interviewed Alejandro Mayorkas, Xavier Becerra, Miguel Cardona, Isabella Casillas Guzman, and White Home administrators and key staffers Emmy Ruiz, Julie Chávez Rodríguez and Carlos Elizondo in regards to the points they’re tackling, in addition to their Latino roots, for a Hispanic Heritage Month particular, “American Voices: Latinos Contained in the White Home” airing Sunday at 7 p.m. on MSNBC.

The 4 Latino Cupboard members and key White Home staffers every have origin tales which can be a part of what they’re drawing on, together with years of presidency and government expertise. 

Under are excerpts from their interviews.

Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Division of Homeland Safety:

On returning to Haiti a few of the 1000’s of Haitians who gathered underneath a bridge in Texas final month: “A brand new authorities took energy and the state of affairs is extra secure. We’re very aware, after all, of the tragedy of the earthquake that occurred. That earthquake occurred in a specific space of the nation. It was distinct from the tragic Jan. 10, 2010, earthquake.”

On the rule of legislation and immigration: “We’re a nation of legal guidelines, our legal guidelines present for humanitarian aid, and we’ll see these legal guidelines come to life, to their fullest, within the ensuing days and weeks of this administration.”

On whether or not he’s denying immigrants on the southern border the welcome his immigrant mother and father received: “We settle for so many people right here in the US. We do tackle asylum claims. We’re in a really distinctive place proper now, addressing a world pandemic, and the general public well being imperatives … It’s not essentially a differential of our humanitarian embrace, however slightly a differential born of the circumstances that our nation and the world is confronting now.”

On his Cuban heritage and being half of a bigger American Latino neighborhood: “When my father spoke in English, he tended to be a slightly critical individual. When my father spoke in Spanish, there was a of pleasure of life in his voice and in his mannerisms. via that distinction, I understood very profoundly, not solely my heritage and its significance, and the truth that I’m a part of a specific neighborhood in America, nevertheless it additionally spoke of the influence of displacement, and what it means to lose one’s nation of origin.”

Alicia Menendez interviews Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.MSNBC

Secretary Xavier Becerra, Division of Well being and Human Providers:

On remedy of immigrant youngsters in HHS care and allegations of abuse: “I’m the son of immigrants. I perceive properly the immigrant expertise … There are allegations. We examine each reported allegation … Kids are usually not solely surviving, they’re being vaccinated. They’re getting well being and psychological assist. We’re placing them with accountable custodians.”

On the problem of vaccinating extra Latinos within the U.S.: “We have now made main efforts — seeing nice strides in getting a lot of our communities which can be typically left behind, vaccinated at no cost … Too many of us in our neighborhood have been ripped off. That is free, take it.”

On his expertise at Stanford College and a realization about his household: “I assumed I used to be center class rising up as a result of we ate actually good meals. Mother’s a terrific prepare dinner … Driving to Stanford, get to Palo Alto, I do know I’m not center class, as a result of I see what center class might appear like…”

On how his Mexican American household instilled “ganas”: “I inform individuals the phrase ganas (drive, motivation) … don’t look it up within the dictionary as a result of the dictionary’s definition by no means hits it on the mark … I by no means noticed my dad and not using a job … He rose for the solar and he didn’t come residence till the solar set. It was a type of issues the place you resolve each day. ¡Ten Ganas¡, as a result of they had been in America. They had been going to have higher. Their children had been going to have higher.”

Alicia Menendez interviews Well being and Human Providers Secretary Xavier Becerra.MSNBC

Secretary Miguel Cardona, Division of Schooling

What college students want: “We’d like to verify, as we’re reopening colleges, we’re giving college students a chance to have social and emotional helps, entry to psychological well being helps … particularly in areas the place there was extra loss … We have to ensure that after we reopen our colleges, we’re enthusiastic about the holistic wants of our college students, not simply the tutorial ones.”

On constructing academic fairness into college reopening funding: “We despatched out two-thirds of the funds that Congress requested us to ship out and we held again a 3rd. We stated that final third will go to the states after we see a plan that has fairness and stakeholder engagement in it.”

On biculturalism’s advantages: “I all the time say I’m the identical individual from the barrio to the briefing room … I grew up bilingual and bicultural … Biculturalism to me is an asset that I believe as a rustic we have to do a greater job embracing.”

On sharing his Puerto Rican tradition as a instructor: “We had been celebrating Three Kings … we had a parranda (a vacation neighborhood stroll with singing and music) … that introduced individuals collectively to find out about completely different cultures, via music, values I used to be raised with … That have via the bicultural lens allowed me to acknowledge that after we see college students for who they’re, what they create to the desk, and take a look at that as belongings, we’re extra prone to create a neighborhood the place we wish our youngsters to attend.”

Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, Small Enterprise Administration

On the pandemic’s influence on companies: “Presently about one-third of our companies are a minimum of quickly shut down, so we’re persevering with to attempt to assist them with aid, particularly for our high-impacted industries…”

On the Latino small-business panorama: “The charges of entrepreneurship within the Latino neighborhood are actually excessive … however so a lot of them lack entry to capital or networks to actually assist their small enterprise develop … It’s one of many issues President Biden and I spoke about, that not each small-business proprietor has that lawyer, or the accountant, or the marketing consultant on pace dial.”

On her Mexican American heritage: “I’m undoubtedly a Californian, born in Burbank, California. However my household has a protracted historical past in Texas, and we’re multigenerational right here in the US. It’s been an unbelievable expertise to see all of the entrepreneurs which have come out of my household in Texas and California as properly.” 

On being underestimated: “In highschool, I used to be a type of children that was additionally instructed to not shoot for that one school I used to be decided to go to as a result of I wasn’t going to get in.”

White Home employees:Emmy Ruiz, White Home director of political technique and outreach

On Biden’s vaccination technique: “A part of what has been attention-grabbing in that technique has been that it’s not simply your conventional, you already know, bureaucratic strategy. It’s one the place we’re doing every part we will to take sources to communities.”

On being a homosexual, Latina mother within the White Home: “I believe it’s actually vital for these of us which can be, you already know, actually honored to stroll these halls to convey our a number of identities … I additionally convey the identification of being a daughter, and being a caregiver, being a good friend, being an organizer … My aim right here is to convey my entire self — and create alternatives.

Julie Chávez Rodriguez, particular assistant to the president, senior deputy director of public engagement

On working on the White Home regardless of not agreeing on each coverage choice: “After we take a look at issues just like the little one tax credit score and the chance to chop out little one poverty amongst Latinos by 45 %, that’s kind of what retains me right here. After we take into consideration the chance to proceed to supply reasonably priced well being care to the Latino neighborhood and to be part of … selections which can be being made about how we attain our neighborhood or what sources we’re getting for our neighborhood, that’s what retains me right here … I believe this administration has achieved an incredible job … guaranteeing that illustration of our neighborhood is absolutely all through…”

Carlos Elizondo, White Home social secretary

On a plate from his mother being within the White Home’s 2021 Hispanic Heritage Month exhibit: “This plate right here is extremely private and particular pottery that’s known as Talavera that’s made in Mexico, which is my ancestry. My expensive mother and father … despatched me this 34 years in the past, after I first moved to Washington to begin … it’s all the time a terrific reminder of not solely my private connection to my household, however to my heritage and to the place I got here from.”

The Hispanic Heritage Month particular, “American Voices: Latinos Contained in the White Home” airs Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

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