This week, President-elect Joe Biden announced to the public the members of his team who will be tasked with protecting and ensuring the health of Americans. At the head of them will be Xavier Becerra, currently the attorney general of California.
His nomination represents a triumph for the Latino community, not only because he would be the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, but because there is no one better to lead one of the institutions with the greatest impact for our community than Xavier Becerra.
For 24 years and until 2017, Becerra represented California in the federal Congress. Among other accomplishments, he helped push through passage of the Affordable Care Act, known to many as Obamacare. Last month, as California attorney general, he led the defense of that law before the Supreme Court.
We are facing an unprecedented public health crisis; it has affected more than 15 million Americans. It claimed the lives of more than 270,000, including nearly 50,000 Latinos. In the wake of the crisis, we need a capable leader who will be on the job from day one in office.
If confirmed, Becerra will play a key role in eradicating the Covid-19 pandemic. Under his leadership, the Department of Health will carry out the largest vaccination campaign in the history of the country. It will not be easy to ensure that vaccines are distributed effectively and affordably.
This requires a leader with extensive experience, putting in place a national plan to address persistent health disparities and the disproportionate impact the pandemic is having on communities of color, on low-wage workers as well as essentials. ; in rural communities and other vulnerable populations.
But above all, that leader must face this responsibility in a compassionate way, something we have not seen so far.
At every step of his career, Xavier Becerra has advocated for expanding access to healthcare and creating a system where everyone can access high-quality, low-cost healthcare. We know that commitment to community and public service comes from her upbringing in a working-class family of Mexican immigrants. Becerra was the first in his family to graduate from college; it has come to occupy positions of power, but yes, without forgetting its origins and its people.
Latinos place their trust in Xavier Becerra, thanks to his ability to reach the community in his own language. We are confident that our community will now receive direct and first-hand information on health issues.
Becerra will bring his experience, knowledge, integrity and unmatched energy to the critical task ahead. We know that your leadership and dedication as Secretary of Health will allow us to safely reopen schools and businesses, rebuild a better economy, return to our lives, and embrace our loved ones again.
Nathalie Rayes, President and CEO, Latino Victory Fund; Dr. Cynthia Telles, Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine Director, UCLA Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence and Board Member, Latino Victory Fund