Increasing Hispanic Political Representation
with Ramiro Cavazos of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
The 117th Congress has a record number of Hispanic members — 54 in total. Despite this milestone, Hispanics remain underrepresented in Congress.
Ramiro Cavazos, President and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, joins host Tetiana Anderson to discuss an initiative aimed to increase Hispanic representation at all levels of government.
Aug 31, 2021
Anderson: In 1822, Jose Marion Hernández became the first Hispanic American to be elected to Congress. Almost 200 years later, the 117th Congress has 54 Hispanic members, and that's a record. Despite this milestone, Hispanics remain underrepresented in Congress and across all levels of government. Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. Hispanics make up 19% of the U.S. population, but only 1% of elected and appointed officials. And joining me to talk about all of this, along with an initiative aimed at increasing Hispanic representation at all levels of government, is Ramiro Cavazos. He is the president and C.E.O. of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. And Ramiro, thanks for being here.
Cavazos: Tetiana, thank you for the invitation. It's great to be with you.
Anderson: So we know that Congress has made some pretty significant gains, but how well do you think that the Biden administration has done in, say, the first six months that he's held office when it comes to Hispanic inclusion at the federal level?
Cavazos: Well, Tetiana, we believe that the new administration, the Biden administration, is off to a great start for cabinet-level positions. Many high-level appointees, all have been vetted and approved through, of course, the Senate. But it's important to note that we need to continue to be vigilant and monitor these appointments at all levels. And we want to make sure that we get to parity with the U.S. population of Hispanics at 19% to 20%. And that's our goal, is to continue to send names and refer people to these appointments.
Anderson: And so in order to achieve parity, you all have a project to do just that. It's called Proyecto 20%. The goal is to have 20% Hispanic inclusion in the Biden-Harris administration. But there is a larger goal here, isn't there? Explain the ultimate mission.
Cavazos: Well, the ultimate mission is to have equity. We're the leading nation in the world, over 330 million people, 20% self-identified Hispanic. The Biden administration is off to a great start, about 10% appointed high-level positions in the White House. Our goal is 20%. We're working with other national Latino groups on this initiative called Proyecto 20%. And we will continue to make sure to be allies and to be resourceful in making sure that the larger goal of representation, equity, and decision making are filled by Latinos at all levels.
Anderson: And you say that the Biden administration is doing a good job so far. So I'm hoping that you can highlight some of the more high-profile appointees that are already serving in the administration.
Cavazos: Well, Tetiana, the fact that we have, of course, the first Latino as the Secretary of Health and Human Services during the pandemic, clearly health is a big issue. Xavier Becerra represents that position. We have, of course, Isabel Guzman as administrator of the Small Business Administration. Dr. Miguel Cardona, Education. Education is clearly the great equalizer in our society. And, of course, Alejandro Mayorkas, who's the Secretary of Homeland Security. Immigration is a big issue. 80% of Latinos are born and raised here, but it continues to be a challenge for our country as we continue to grow the economy. But we're very pleased so far and we will continue to watch very carefully the future appointees and monitor them closely.
Anderson: So you're talking about all the progress that the Biden administration has made thus far, but when do you see the 20% mission really being accomplished? And what do you think it's gonna take to make that happen?
Cavazos: Tetiana, we just need to be vigilant moving forward. 20% is our goal to equal the population of Hispanics in this country right now. But for us, this is an ongoing effort. We should not stop at 20%. We'd love that number to be larger and make sure that we are represented at all levels. We are a proud community that makes sure that we are in the workforce, that we're creating jobs. We have 5 million Hispanic-owned businesses, and that this economy continues to grow and have the workforce that it needs. But it needs to have people at high level making important decisions on policy. We want to make sure that our community is represented there at 20% and higher levels also.
Anderson: And, Ramiro, if people want to find out more about the chamber, what's the website?
Cavazos: Tetiana, thank you for asking. It's https://urldefense.com/v3/__http://www.ushcc.com__;!!CQl3mcHX2A!V-95uDCF0737MgWGDEpAa2JASVP5Nn6bVAVz-hTg4vWqNjKkk37RFTqlhxvDR9QyXnnB$ . Our website has all the information on Proyecto 20%, our advocacy efforts and our small-business owners and chambers around the country that are working to make sure that we have equity and prosperity in Hispanic business. Thank you so much. Ushcc.com.
Anderson: Ramiro Cavazos with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Thanks for being here.
Cavazos: Thank you for having me.
Anderson: And thanks to our viewers as well for watching. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the country, just log on to comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.