The Biden administration’s crisis at the border

Janet Murguía, president and CEO of UnidosUS, discusses the importance of Hispanic representation in the new administration.
6:12 | 03/01/21

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Transcript for The Biden administration’s crisis at the border
With an influx of unaccompanied young migrants arriving at the border, the Biden administration is now receiving criticism for detaining these children for many weeks until they could be reunited with their families. And we want to bring in Janet Murguia, the president and CEO of unidosus, latinx advocacy organization. Thank you so much for being with us, and the Biden administration is getting criticism from the left and the right for reopening this facility that president trump had opened that was holding these minors. Including AOC herself saying this is not okay, never has this been okay, never will this be okay, no matter the administration or party. So let me get your take on this particular facility that the Biden administration says it hopefully will only be open for a short time. This is a temporary fix. What are your thoughts on it? Well, I think everybody recognizes that president Biden inherited an awful mess, and really what was seen as a stain on our country when president trump initiated the zero tolerance policy that actually separated children from their families. So president Biden's asked for a little bit of time to sort things through. He's worked closely with Susan rice who is now domestic policy adviser and who has international knowledge. She's met with many of us directly to assure us that they are trying to make sure to try to move these children through as quickly as possible. But AOC, congressman ocasio-cortez is right. We will be very vigilant and scrutinizing and hope that they understand the importance of how we handle these children. I do commend president Biden for making sure that right away there is a commission that was put together to reunite those families that were separated. Let's talk about president Biden's emerging cabinet. So far less than half of president Biden's cabinet level nominees have actually been nominated. You recently told the "Washington post" you saw what you called a, quote, very troubling pattern and a double standard in the confirmation process. How so? Well, what we're seeing is that by this time in most administrations, the majority of a president's cabinet would have been approved, or confirmed. President Biden has appointed one of the most diverse cabinets, if not the most diverse cabinet in the history of the U.S. Yet what we're seeing an effort to somehow see those nominees who are women, or people of color, for some reason, slowed down, and for questions to be raised, and the way they've been raised about these nominees, to give us reason to believe there is some sort of what my friend, president of the national urban league, Marc moral called racial hazing. It seems like they're being singled out and it smacks of something deeper going on here. I want to turn to the pandemic now if we can, which has once again highlighted how communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and are also always impacted by our health care system. Are you seeing not just that for the latinx community it's being highlighted during the pandemic, but are you seeing any signs we're learning from it and doing something better than we have in the past? Well, I feel like we are very much still struggling in terms of how to deal with this pandemic. Again, I commend president Biden for tackling an issue that had not been addressed in -- with a very specific or comprehensive plan. Unfortunately we're seeing disproportionately communities of color, like the Latino and African-American communities, impacted by covid. We're twice as likely to contract the virus, and we're four times as likely to be hospitalized, and three times as likely to die. And when it comes to the vaccine right now, there's still not enough equitable distribution, not enough folks in our community are getting the vaccine, and we also have to work to make sure that we're taking the vaccine to where the people are. And up until now, it just hasn't been the case. Obviously, we have more vaccines now, and we're working in partnership now with the CDC to make sure that they are targeting communities and going actually into communities to make sure we're distributing this vaccine. The CDC actually reached out to a group like yours and others to try to target specifically these communities of color who absolutely needed the vaccine and they tend to be the front line workers and yet as we just heard you say, they are disproportionately negatively affected by this disease. So specifically, what you are doing to get the word out to get those vaccines to the people who need it most? Well, in addition to the equitable distribution challenges, there are challenges within our community because there is hesitancy. There's some concerns about the vaccine, and its effectiveness, and rooted in the past where we've seen unfortunately communities of color again targeted for testing and not done so in a way that has been at the highest standards. So it's incumbent on many of us who are trusted partners like unidosus, like the naacp, or the black community, to make sure that we're working to convince and to provide education information that the vaccine is effective and that it will be important to protecting our communities and allowing them to go back to those moments with their families. That hesitancy has to be addressed. Otherwise, we'll never get passed this pandemic, which is affecting all the public. Plenty more to address, and I know this is an ongoing effort and ongoing conversation and we hope we can continue to have with you, certainly. President and CEO of unidosus, Janet Murguia, thanks so much for being here. We'll see you soon, all right? Thank you both.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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