Job opportunities and Covid-19 relief for Latino families were high on the agenda on Tuesday as President Joe Biden met with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), an organization of 38 Hispanic Democrats.
During the meeting, the CHC - led by California Democrat Raul Ruiz - discussed a range of issues, including vaccine equity, the Biden administration's job plan, immigration reform and healthcare.
"America...cannot succeed unless Hispanic families succeed," Biden said ahead of the meeting.
"Recent polling nationwide shows that 24 out of every 100 kids in grade school is Latino or Hispanic," he added. "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...it makes no sense. That's what we're all about."
Among the administration's primary goals for the Latino community, Biden said, is job creation.
"We're also creating a whole lot of job opportunities in neighborhoods," he said. "It all gets down to neighborhoods - whether that grocery store is open, where that local bank is there, whether or not you have a barber shop, a beauty shop. It all matters."
The meeting - which had originally been planned weeks ago - was markedly different from previous CHC visits to the White House.
In January 2018, for example, Nevada Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham arrived uninvited to a meeting about immigration between then-President Donald Trump and congressional leaders. Eventually she was allowed inside.
Following the meeting, a number of CHC made pointed comparisons between the Biden and Trump administrations.
"We went in with the expectation of being complete partners," Raul Ruiz was quoted as saying by The Hill. "It just tells us we have a tremendous turning point in our nation in the way the administration respects Hispanics."
One Twitter, Senator Bob Menendez, a Cuban-American Democrat from New Jersey, said that "it's been a long time since America's 60 million Latinos could have their voices heard in the Oval Office."
Additionally, members of the CHS are understood to have pushed President Biden to appoint two defeated members of Congress to positions in the administration.
According to Axios, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, an Ecuador-born was suggested to take the post of Undersecretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the Department of State.
Another former congresswoman, Xochitl Torres Small, was reportedly put forth for the post of Undersecretary of Rural Development at the US Department of Agriculture.
Both women lost re-election bids in 2020.
The move comes after a similar request by Asian American and Pacific Island politicians - led by Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth and Hawaii Democrat Hazie Hirono - led to the Biden administration naming Erika Moritsugu as Deputy Assistant to the President and Asian American and Pacific Island senior liaison.
Founded in December 1976, the CHC is aimed at "voicing and advancing through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands."
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