Latino families are suffering. We are grieving the loss of our loved ones, while at the same time facing severe economic instability and an uncertain future. The pandemic hit close to home for my family when I lost my stepmom, Alice Guzman, earlier this month to COVID-19. It was devastating to lose a loved one and all the more painful because her death, like so many others, could have been avoided if our government had a plan for containing the pandemic.

Now, across Texas, thousands are suffering as a result of failed Republican leadership. Governor Greg Abbott followed Donald Trump’s pandemic response model of “hear no evil, see no evil,” and failed to set in place critical protections to protect families. Due to this lack of leadership, Texas is now one of our nation’s hotspots for COVID-19. 

As a result, Latino families across the state are contracting the virus at unprecedented rates. Families like mine are suffering the tragedy of losing a loved one while living in fear of future spread that could jeopardize the health of more of our relatives. In our case, my dad now has COVID-19 and we are left to hope and pray he returns to health. 

But the pain from the failed Republican response cuts even deeper than public health. Latino families are struggling to come up with enough money to pay rent and put food on their table. Latino essential workers are risking their lives everyday in order to earn a living. And Latino-owned small businesses are struggling to maintain their operations – many are being forced to close down. This changes the make-up of our communities, further hurts workers who become unemployed and devastates the small business owners who have dedicated their lives to pursuing their dreams.

The impact and challenges that our families are currently facing are devastating, tragic and infuriating all at once. The Trump-Abbott approach has failed us. This was all preventable as we see other countries and even states reopen safely. Instead of providing a clear model to tackle this health and economic crisis, Donald Trump chose a divisive and gimmick-filled approach. He didn’t lift a finger to help our families stay safe or get back to work. Instead, he spent his time attacking immigrants, trying to deport Dreamers through attempts to repeal DACA and undermining health professionals. 

We need a President who will invest in the overall well-being of the Latino community, not use us as a political football to score cheap points. This is why I am supporting Joe Biden for President. Biden has a concrete plan to help our working families, put families back to work and  bring humanity to our immigration system. He has a plan to “Build, Back Better” that will focus on raising wages and investing in job creation. Biden is also committed to expanding access to affordable, quality health care, which is critical during this pandemic. Unlike Trump, he is also committed to recognizing Dreamers and their families as Americans. As President, he will push for immigration reform that provides a roadmap to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants. 

Biden knows that immigrants and the Latino community represent who we are as a nation: a nation that welcomes diversity and welcomes the contributions of immigrants. As a United States Senator and Vice President to Barack Obama, Biden has a track record of delivering results for Latino families. He understands our values of family, faith and community because he shares them. As President he will work tirelessly to ensure our community has a seat at the table as we rebuild our country.

The choice this November, couldn’t be more clear. We can continue on the dangerous path of Trump that has devastated our families. Or we can turn the page and elect Joe Biden. Let’s get to work and rebuild our country with Joe Biden as President.  

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by former HUD Secretary and former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. It appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the author’s permission. Castro can be reached via this email: [email protected].

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows Julián Castro.

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