Things That Matter

Here Are All Of the Latinos Set to Serve in Joe Biden’s Incoming Administration So Far

Photos: agbecerra/Instagram; Public Domain

President Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration is just days away and the entire country is buzzing with the prospect of change. Joe Biden ran his campaign on a message of unity and healing, and part of that message included a promise for more diversity in his upcoming administration. 

As he stated in his victory speech, his campaign was supported by “the broadest and most diverse coalition in history.”

“I said at the outset, I wanted to represent this campaign to represent and look like America,” he stated. “We’ve done that. Now that’s what I want the administration to look like and act like.”

Communities of color across the country were crossing their fingers that Biden would follow his word and appoint a diverse staff for his upcoming administration. And that appears to be just what Biden is doing. 

Biden has assembled an incredibly diverse group of people to fill his administration, including his cabinet. Although his cabinet picks have not become official yet (they must be confirmed by the Senate), we know who Biden’s nominations are. Here is a round up of all of the Latinos set to be in Joe Biden’s administration.

Xavier Becerra – Secretary of Health and Human Services

Photo: agbecerra/Instagram

Born in Sacramento to Mexican parents, Xavier Beccera is currently the Attorney General of California. Before that, he was a California Congressman from 1993 to 2017. Beccera is an especially important cabinet pick because he will be tasked with guiding the U.S. to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alejandro Mayorkas – Secretary of Homeland Security

Photo: Public Domain

Alejandro Mayorkas is Biden’s Cuban-born pick for Secretary of Homeland Security. This position oversees both U.S. Customs and Border Protection (including Border Patrol) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (aka ICE). If confirmed, Mayorkas will be the first Latino and the first immigrant to fill this position.

Miguel Cardona – Secretary of Education

Photo: Getty Images

Miguel Cardonna has been Connecticut’s commissioner of education since 2019. According to Biden, he chose Cardonna because the Boricua educator will “strive to eliminate long-standing inequities and close racial and socioeconomic opportunity gaps” within America’s educational system.

Julie Chávez Rodriguez – Director, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs

Photo: Public Domain

Previously Biden’s deputy campaign manager, as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Rodriguez will “provide coordination between the White House and state and local governments.” The granddaughter of Chicano activist César Chávez, Rodriguez has the political pedigree to back up her resume.

Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon – Chief of Staff for the First Lady

Photo: Public Domain

Dominican-American attorney and former diplomat Julissa Reynoso Pantaleón will serve as incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s Chief of Staff. “I wanted someone with heart and a passion for public service, ” Dr. Biden told NBC News. “I found all of that and more in Julissa–an accomplished diplomat, legal expert, and strategist.”

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Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

Things That Matter

Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

During the 2020 election, Latinos were a massive electoral voting bloc. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbered the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are now 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. 

And, Latinos helped deliver the presidency to Joe Biden. So it can be expected that the community has high expectations for Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises of immigration reform.

During a recent speech about his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden outlined his priorities once he’s sworn in on January 20th, and said he would “immediately” send an immigration bill to congress.

Joe Biden promises swift action on immigration reform as soon as he takes office.

Over the weekend, President-Elect Joe Biden promised he would take swift action when it comes to immigration reform and rolling back many of the cruel and dangerous policies put into place by the Trump administration.

“I will introduce an immigration bill immediately,” he said in a news conference on Friday.

Although he didn’t go into detail regarding the proposed legislation, he’s previously committed to ending Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, and that he wants a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and an increase in guest worker permits to help bring undocumented agricultural workers – many of whom are now considered “essential workers” – out of the shadows.

Biden had already promised an immigration overhaul within the first 100 days of his presidency but this commitment definitely increases the pressure on him and congress to get things done.

Biden also said his justice department will investigate the policy of child separation.

During the same press conference, Biden said that his Justice Department will determine responsibility for the family separation program, which led to more than 2,600 children being taken from caregivers after crossing the U.S. southern border, and whether it was criminal.

“There will be a thorough, thorough investigation of who is responsible, and whether or not the responsibility is criminal,” Biden said. That determination will be made by his attorney general-designate, Merrick Garland, he added.

During the campaign, Biden finally took responsibility for many of his administration’s immigration failures.

Nicknamed the “Deporter in Chief,” Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history with over 3 million deportations during his time in office. 

But as part of that administration, Joe Biden is also complicit. That’s why during the campaign he seemed to acknowledge at least some of the pain the duo caused.

“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” Biden’s immigration plan reads. 

While Obama’s methods pale in comparison to the cruel tactics like family separation, inhumane conditions, and targeted raids, the impact the deportations have had on families is cannot be quantified.

Biden, like any Vice President, is put in the position of having to defend his president, but also himself as the future president. This isn’t a bad thing, Biden must distinguish himself from his predecessor but if the shadow of Obama’s legacy is buying him goodwill, it might be difficult to undermine that administration’s stances.

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Puerto Ricans Bring The Receipts As They List Priorities For The Island Under A Biden Presidency

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Puerto Ricans Bring The Receipts As They List Priorities For The Island Under A Biden Presidency

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

For years, the island of Puerto Rico has been neglected or outright ignored by the federal government. Following a series of natural disasters (earthquakes and hurricanes), Puerto Rico struggled to get the attention and resources it so desperately needed from federal officials on the mainland.

Now, with a new president set to take office in January, progressive leaders from the island are working hard to make sure they have President-Elect Joe Biden’s attention.

Progressive leaders sent a letter to Joe Biden detailing their priorities for Puerto Rico.

More than thirty progressive organizations have signed a letter calling for the Biden-Harris administration to establish clear priorities for Puerto Rico. Officials on the island are hopeful that after decades of neglect, the island has a real chance at achieving genuine change under a Democratic president and, hopefully, a Democratic-controlled Congress.

The letter sent to President-Elect Biden includes several policy initiatives for the island – including a full repeal of PROMESA and debt cancellation, the promotion of a just recovery for Puerto Rico, and immediately initiating a process of decolonization and self-determination.

The letter asks the Biden administration to support the U.S. Territorial Relief Act of 2019, which provide much-needed debt relief for the island, while also ensuring a proper audit of the causes and sources of Puerto Rico’s debt.

In ensuring a just recovery for the island, the letters asks that all emergency relief bunds (from HUD and FEMA) be immediately released so that infrastructure, agricultural, educational, and economic projects get the critical assistance they need to help rebuild the island.

And, perhaps most importantly, the letter requests that the Biden-Harris government support the AOC-sponsored Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2020. The bill recognizes Puerto Rico’s legal right to establish its own constitutional convention to determine the island’s future relationship with the United States.

The letter was released the same day that other progressive organizations headed to Delaware to get the president-elect’s attention.

Although the community was successful at electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the offices of president and vice-president respectively, there remains so much work to be done.

We must hold the future administration accountable to promises made during the campaign and that work starts now. Many progressive organizations are already on the ground in Delaware (Joe Biden’s home state) working to ensure that he works to protect immigrant communities, Black lives, worker’s rights, and the rule of law.

Puerto Rico has long suffered under mismanagement and neglect.

From Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017, which absolutely devastated large swathes of the island, to the ensuring political crisis and recurring earthquakes of 2019 and 2020, Puerto Rico has suffered for years.

Even within the island’s own elected government, a crisis of mismanagement has plagued Puerto Rico. Following the initial recovery, scandal after scandal was uncovered which forced the island to go through a series of governors after each was forced to resign. Puerto Ricans took to the streets in record numbers, demanding change from their elected officials and help from the mainland.

Despite pleas from Puerto Ricans across the country, the federal government has been slow to help the island. Federal dollars have often been tied to painful austerity measures that would only further hurt the island’s economy and community.

Now is the time for real change. And Puerto Ricans – both on the mainland and the island – are hoping that a Biden-Harris administration will finally be able to deliver the much-needed relief the community so desperately needs

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