Hispanic Caucus leaders meet with the President of the United States for the first time four years
“It’s been a long four years,” Rep. Espaillat wrote.
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“It's been a long time since America's 60 million Latinos could have their voices heard in the Oval Office.”
This was Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the highest-ranking Latino in Congress, who on Tuesday expressed that hopefully this meeting with the President will be the first of many. He and other members of the Hispanic Caucus met with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for the first time since before Donald Trump’s presidency.
They sat to discuss a range of issues including immigration, and jobs, according to the White House.
It's been a long time since America's 60 million Latinos could have their voices heard in the Oval Office.— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) April 20, 2021
Great meeting with @POTUS, @VP and my @HispanicCaucus colleagues today. Hopefully the first of many. pic.twitter.com/Cpb2NnA1Y7
At a brief presser just before his meeting with the CHC, Biden clarified the meeting would focus on infrastructure, health care access and equity, immigration reform, and more.
“We’ve got a whole range of issues to discuss, and I want to make sure that from my American Rescue Plan to COVID— I told the Doc—” Biden said, motioning to Rep. Raul Ruiz, “That if I hadn’t had my shot to give me one. He’s taking care of business.”
Rep. Ruiz, Chair of the CHC has been known to administer COVID-19 vaccines on his own constituents in his Southern California District, encompassing parts of the Coachella Valley.
“America in our view cannot succeed unless Hispanic families succeed,” Biden continued.
This year especially, the concerns of Latinos in the United States have yet to be fully addressed, from the pandemic’s health factors to the ensuing economic fallout.
Over the campaign trail, Biden released a Latino Agenda, a comprehensive plan for the Latinos, which included investment in Latinx workers and small businesses, tackling racial inequality in healthcare and education, protecting DACA recipients, and combating hate and gun violence.
“Twenty-four out of every 100 kids in school is a Latino or Hispanic,” Biden continued. “The idea that we’re not going to invest in what will be roughly 25% of the population by the time these kids are in our positions is just absolutely — it makes no sense.”
Biden also noted Sen. Menendez’ position as chairman of the foreign relations committee.
“The chairman is now chairman of a committee that I enjoyed more than anything I did in my whole career as chairman of the foreign relations committee,” she said.
The meeting is also expected to address vaccine distribution in Hispanic communities. Black and Latino populations in the United States have been the hardest-hit when it comes to COVID-19 infection and deaths, and the same has fared for vaccine equity.
The session also comes after the Biden Administration backtracked on two points of immigration talking points. First, the administration backtracked on an earlier promise to welcome more immigrants, announcing he would maintain the 15,000 capset by the Trump Administration.
After major blowback from progressives, Biden reversed his reversal.
Then on Saturday, Biden referred to the situation in the U.S.-Mexico border as a "crisis"and after similar criticisms pertaining to his wording, argued he meant the conditions in the Northern Triangle that have led more people to leave their countries.
In the entirety of former President Donald Trump’s time of office, he never met with the Hispanic Caucus.
“It's been a long four years,” Rep. Espaillat (D-NY) wrote on Twitter, posting a photo alongside Senator Cortez Masto, Senator Ben Ray Lujan, and Reps. Darren Soto, Ruiz, and Teresa Leger Fernandez.