U.S. Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Raul Ruiz joined a conference call with the Joe Biden for President campaign Tuesday to tout the Democratic nominee’s new ‘caregiving economy’ plan and how it will impact the Latino-American community.
Biden hopes to add three million new jobs in caregiving and early education, and Mucarsel-Powell said Tuesday that initiative would have a great effect for Latino families around the country.
Mucarsel-Powell, who represents Florida’s 26th Congressional District, said Tuesday that he emigrated to America with her mother at the age of 14, and that she learned her work ethic from her mom.
Her mom, now over 80 years old, lives with her family at home.
“I’m so lucky to have her with my family and my children, and we’re happy and lucky that we can take care of her while I’m serving here in Congress,” she said. “But every day I worry about her because she has underlying health conditions that could make her vulnerable to coronavirus.”
America had a caregiving crisis prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Mucarsel-Powell, in that childcare was already too expense and unavailable to too many Americans.
But now, it’s a full-fledged disaster that will need the immediate attention of the next administration.
“I know that Vice President Joe Biden understands the challenges and stress of caregiving. Vice President Biden has taken care of aging parents,” she said. “He’s been a single parent himself. Vice President Biden knows hard it is to raise a family and to care for a sick family member. He knows how hard it is for millions of Americans — especially Latino families — who are just trying to make ends meet. I don’t think the President we have in the White House, Donald Trump, gets it.”
Ruiz, who represents California’s 36th congressional district, was an emergency physician who practiced during the swine flu pandemic prior to his days as a legislator. Ruiz said Tuesday that he trained in public health and humanitarian and disaster aid during his time at Harvard University.
And one thing he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt is that Latino families are hit hard by pandemics due to socioeconomics and their inability to get access to medication.
“Latinos have oftentimes two parents in the work force, which means they don’t have the luxury of staying at home. They must go out and they are in essential jobs,” he said. “They’re at high risk of getting infected. Then they go home with oftentimes three generations living in their household. I know this first-hand: We took care of my grandmother until the day she passed away.”
The Reps. were also joined by Rocio Saenz, international executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, and Arizona state Rep. Raquel Teran.
Saenz said that caregivers and early childhood educators have high turnover and low wages, and she said the need for care workers will grow more than any profession except green energy jobs over the next 10 years.
“For too long, America’s caregivers have provided quality care for American families without fair pay, benefits and security to care for their own,” she said. “The COVID crisis exposed and worsened the deep cracks that cross our care-giving system. Care-givers and early childhood educators are disproportionately Latina, have been underpaid … and undervalued for far too long.
“Joe Biden will give care-giving workers and early childhood educators a raise and stronger benefits, treating them as the professionals they are. They care for our seniors and children and disabled. It’s not only essential, it’s vital to our economic infrastructure.”
Teran, who represents a district that encompasses central west Phoenix and downtown Glendale, said that her constituents aren’t able to afford the services they often work to provide.
“I know that for many families in districts like mine, that median income is $29,000,” said Teran. “Childcare is unaffordable for many of my families. Only 20% of the children in our district attend pre-K. …Those numbers are not where they need to be.”