Statement by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on National Hispanic Heritage Month
“This month, especially, we celebrate and recognize the significant contributions of more than 62 million Latinos currently living in the United States. Like so many Latinos in this country, my parents immigrated to the United States believing in the promise of our nation—that everyone who works hard and play by the rules can earn the opportunity to get ahead. Throughout my career, I have fought to ensure that the American Dream is in reach for everyone, regardless of where they come from.
Today, as Secretary of Health and Human Services, I continue this mission by advancing the health and well-being of everyone in the United States, including every Latino family. Across the Department, we are working to close health disparities and increase access to health care, which we know can go a long way for Latino communities who have disproportionately lacked access.
Already, the Affordable Care Act has helped four million Latinos gain health coverage, and we are building and expanding access to care. We are making health care more accessible by getting more Latino families covered in the federal Marketplace by turning to bilingual Navigators, for example. And we are growing a public health workforce, with an eye towards training and growing a staff that represents America.
Thanks to the American Rescue Plan that has supported grants dispersed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we have funded over $7.3 billion in community health centers in our fight against COVID-19. Thirty-six percent of patients served at community health centers nationwide are Latino.
Throughout the pandemic, Latinos have worked on the frontlines as essential workers, fighting to keep people safe, families fed, and our country alive -- all at great risk to their own health and often while they had to live at the margins and in the shadows. Since I became Secretary back in March, I've traveled across our country – visiting with workers from the fields in Salinas, California, to the streets of El Paso, Texas, to the suburbs in Lawrence, Massachusetts. I've met routinely with many Latino parents, teens, farmworkers, health care workers, and community leaders who continue to inspire me with their resiliency and hope for a better future.
As immigrants, my parents suffered a lot of defeats, but they learned to fall forward. My father Manuel, who helped pave the roads of my hometown, taught me about “GANAS”, which means having guts, grits, and fortitude wrapped together. I believe in the GANAS of the Latino community to rise above the challenges we face as a nation today.”