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Remarks During a Meeting With Latino Community Leaders and an Exchange With Reporters

August 03, 2021

The President. Okay. Well, everybody, welcome. Today I have the privilege of meeting with Latino leaders to discuss a bunch of key issues that affect the community; the progress we're making against the pandemic; historic and economic recovery we're under—that's undergoing—we're undergoing; and immigration and voting rights, which are critical.

Latino leaders have been essential to helping us get the country vaccinated, with 70 percent of all adult Americans receiving at least one shot. The vaccines work. Even as cases go up due to the highly transmissible disease, the Delta variant, we're not seeing a comparable rise in hospitalizations or deaths in most of the country because of the vaccinations. This is an epidemic of the unvaccinated—a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

But we need everyone to get vaccinated in this pandemic. And it's critical to keeping the economy strong. And in 6 months, we're seeing the fastest job growth of any point in any administration in history from the beginning of their administration and the fastest economic growth in nearly 40 years.

And we have an opportunity to make historic investments in infrastructure and in American families and finally to build an economy that deals everybody in. I've been saying from the beginning when I announced that I'm tired of trickle down. It doesn't work very well. But when you build from the bottom up and the middle out, everybody does well, including the wealthy. That's what this is all about.

And so creating millions of good-paying jobs in every community and—including Latino neighborhoods—delivering affordable child and—care and paid leave and universal pre-K, 2 years of community college.

You know, today marks, as we all know—no one knows this better than this community—2-year—2 years of—since the shooting in El Paso. And all of us have, in our personal lives, lost people unexpectedly. Most of us have. We know how devastating it is, particularly one that was born out of such hatred.

But you know, I did a piece—Jill and I did a piece for the El Paso Times, but I realized after it was published that I didn't talk about an aspect that is really important: There were 236 people who were wounded. How are they doing? The trauma. The equivalent of posttraumatic stress that comes from these kinds of things. I—and the need for—and I hope we'll—we can talk about it a little bit later as well—is their need for mental health services and a whole range of things that affect not only them but their families when they've survived.

But, to the families who have lost loved ones, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, Jill and send our love, as all of you do, I know. But I know, you know, these anniversaries are—should be celebrated in a sense of recognize—so we see things don't happen again. But, you know, they're terrible for the victims and the survivors because it brings back everything like it happened the very moment ago. And I—it takes enormous courage for people to respond that way.

You know, and I know how hard these anniversaries are. As I said, no matter how much time has passed, it brings it all back like it happened that second. And the El Paso community—you know, they continue to show their courage and the resilience. But to all Americans, this tragedy reminds us of the unfinished work to heal—and I know I got criticized for running on it, but I really mean it—heal the soul of this country. We have to return to some decency and honor, and I just—anyway.

The gunman targeted people and the diversity of El Paso and our most deeply held American values. And you know, we all act together to counter what is basically domestic terrorism, domestic violence, domestic extremism, and end the scourge of gun violence in America. We can't end it, but we sure can make a big difference than what it is now. And so I continue to do everything in my power to do that.

The most lethal terrorist threat to our homeland in recent years is domestic terrorism—domestic terrorism rooted in White supremacy. We're going to have to stand united against this violence because it just spills over to all communities.

And my administration is carrying out the country's first-ever comprehensive effort to tackle the threat of domestic terrorism, from reducing online radicalization to disrupting networks that inspire violence and providing resources to communities to build up some resilience.

And I'm going to continue to fight this for more commonsense gun laws. And we're going to continue to call on Congress to take action, which they've been reluctant to do. That includes a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like the one used in El Paso. The idea anybody needs, for a pistol and/or a rifle—anyone needs 10, 12, 20, 30, 100 rounds in a rifle is just—it just makes no sense at all. Zero. Doesn't violate anybody's Second Amendment rights to say, "You can't do that." But it just has to stop.

And that includes using my existing authority, which I have, to—from reining in "ghost guns" and—to investing in community policing and community violence intervention, to having—bringing in psychologists and social workers into the police forces to help.

And you know, I look forward to hearing from this group about all of these issues and a lot more. And—but, with that, we're going to discuss a wide range of issues, all of us here tonight—today. And I'm looking forward to it.

So thank you all. Thank you, press, for being here.

Coronavirus Containment Efforts

Q. Mr. President, should Andrew Cuomo resign, sir? Should Andrew Cuomo resign?

The President. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Q. Should Andrew Cuomo resign, sir?

The President. Wait—wait a second. Be quiet, please.

I'm going to be speaking on COVID at 4 o'clock this afternoon, and I'll take questions on COVID and other issues after that.

Thank you.

Q. Thank you, sir.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:42 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Patrick Wood Crusius, suspected gunman in the shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, TX, on August 3, 2019. A reporter referred to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks During a Meeting With Latino Community Leaders and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/351921

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