Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, one of four Latino cabinet members in President Joe Biden’s administration, said on Tuesday he wanted to end raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at workplaces.
“The deployment of mass worksite operations, sometimes resulting in the simultaneous arrest of hundreds of workers, was not focused on the most pernicious aspect of our country’s unauthorized employment challenge: exploitative employers,” Mayorkas wrote in a memo obtained by ABC News. “These highly visible operations misallocated enforcement resources while chilling, and even serving as a tool of retaliation for, worker cooperation in workplace standards investigations.”
Such a change from what was seen under the previous administration is something that policy experts, including Sylvia Puente, president and CEO of Latino Policy Forum, have said may result from Biden having surrounded himself with a more representative cabinet.
Mayorkas has been joined by Secretary Xavier Becerra of Health and Human Services, Secretary Miguel Cardona of the Department of Education and Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman of the Small Business Administration.
“It was about time — the increase in representation that looks like us in the White House, and cabinet levels in Congress, really allows us not to be invisible,” Puente told ABC News. “It really allows us to take our place in our American society.”
Becerra, who made history as the first Latino to lead HHS, discussed with ABC News the importance of representation for all Americans.
“There’s a pride that comes in understanding what you bring to the table, of what your parents taught you and what your forefathers and foremothers did for this country,” Becerra said. “I’m very proud that I bring that to my country. And that’s the heritage that has made the fabric of our country so strong.”
Becerra is the first person in his family to get a four-year college degree, after his parents immigrated from Mexico at a young age. Ultimately, he added, his opportunities have allowed him to help provide opportunities for others.
“It’s about helping people like my dad, who didn’t get past sixth grade, who worked with his hands all his life as a construction worker, a farm worker, so that he could actually have a better [life], at least for his kids,” Becerra said.
“Given that we have this historic number of cabinet officials who are Latino,” Puente said, “it really…