Congress’s First South American Immigrant Plays Big Role in First Term

6 mins read
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell for Congress
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell with supporter.

Since taking office, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Congress’s first Ecuadorian American and South American immigrant, has protected and upheld the values of fairness and hard work that helped her succeed in America. At 15, she began working in the early morning hours in a doughnut shop to help support her family, still managing to achieve the stellar grades that would earn her a scholarship to college. She then set her sights on graduate school, working in a shipping company to fund tuition at Claremont University, ultimately earning a Master’s Degree in International Political Economy. She has been working hard ever since, spending more than 20 years helping to improve those residents often overlooked and underserved in the Miami-Dade area.

Since being elected to Congress in 2018, Mucarsel-Powell has been a strong voice for progressive policies like expanding healthcare access, raising the minimum wage, addressing gun violence, protecting the environment and making debt-free community college a reality. She is strong on immigrant rights as well, believing in treating immigrants and asylum seekers with dignity and standing up for those living here under Temporary Protected Status. She has co-sponsored acts to help unaccompanied youth migrants quickly connect with sponsors. And of particular importance to Floridians, she has also co-sponsored bills that would force the State Department, with deadlines, to process reunification visas for Cubans separated by President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

A member of the Congressional Coronavirus Task Force, Mucarsel-Powell’s most acute concern, though, is getting the pandemic under control. Her opponent, term-limited Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, believes that cutting taxes and a booming economy can kill the pandemic. Not very scientific, forward or solution-oriented thinking. It is also decidedly not in Floridians’ best interest.

From early in the pandemic, Mucarsel-Powell fought to stop the virus’s spread and to communicate clearly and truthfully about its implications. Through a series of teleconferences, she has worked with state and local leaders to ensure Floridians from Kendall to Key West have access to the federal financial and public health assistance provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). 

In March, Mucarsel-Powell implored Governor Ron DeSantis to adopt public health measures recommended by infectious disease experts, including increased testing. She recommended expanding Medicaid, increasing unemployment benefits and expanding eligibility for small business loans. DeSantis, sometimes referred to as a “mini-Trump,” was slow to act. By mid-April, 21,000 Floridians had COVID-19 and 499 others had died from it. That was just the beginning. 

Recognizing the scope and scale of the virus, House Democrats have continued to fight the disease, arguing for a scientific approach to defeating it while providing assistance to individuals, businesses, schools, medical facilities, and state and local entities. They passed the HEROES act in May, but Republicans have blocked movement on COVID-19 relief. 

Undeterred by DeSantis’s inaction, Mucarsel-Powell has continued reaching out to Floridians, listening to their concerns and recommending actions local leaders can take. House Leadership has lauded her strong support of testing and insistence on implementation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health protocol and guidelines. 

In addition to her work to protect Americans from COVID-19, Mucarsel-Powell has championed expanding the Affordable Care Act through H.R. 1425, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act. This bill lowers insurance premiums and drug prices, incentivizes Medicaid expansion, cracks down on junk policies, addresses health coverage disparity and strengthens protections for those with preexisting conditions.

Mucarsel-Powell says Republicans’ attempts to overturn healthcare for millions of Americans drove her to run and win office in 2018. In 2020, she is inspired by the fight to protect Floridians from falling into an abyss due to inaction by DeSantis and Republicans. She told the Miami Herald, “We know what we need to do to be able to crush the spread of the coronavirus and get people back to work and make sure that parents feel safe to send their kids back to school. All these answers lie in the HEROES Act.”                                     

For Florida’s healthcare, for Florida’s economy and security, and for facing America’s challenges head-on, reelect Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell to Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

Photo courtesy Mucarsel-Powell Facebook campaign page.

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