Rachel Garcia, the great-niece of farm workers’ union organizer Cesar Chavez, is grateful that President Joe Biden chose a bust of her famous relative to place behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office — but she has no idea why he did so.
Biden, like President Barack Obama before him, removed a bust of the legendary British Prime Minister Winston Churchill from the Oval Office, a symbol of the special relationship between the United States and Great Britain.
He placed the Chavez bust on the table behind his desk, among portraits of his family members, where it will be seen by anyone meeting with him and will be captured by photographers’ lenses or television cameras in national TV addresses.
Yet Biden has little known association with Chavez. The civil rights leader, who is a prominent hero among many Latinos, is not mentioned once in Biden’s 2007 political memoir, Promises to Keep, which recounted his Senate career to that point.
The San Jose Mercury News reported:
Chavez is among several American leaders Biden has chosen to display in the Oval Office, including a bust of Martin Luther King, a massive portrait of Franklin Roosevelt, a painting of Benjamin Franklin and others.
Garcia said she’d like to meet the president and ask him why he chose to honor Chavez. Though she didn’t get a chance to know him, Garcia met Chavez as a child. She said she remembers the positive energy her great-uncle gave off, and the legacy he left with his family has also left a lasting imprint in her life.
On his first day in office, Joe Biden took several far-reaching steps to undo his predecessor’s landmark executive orders restricting immigration to the U.S. In his first day, Biden signed executive orders halting construction of the border wall with Mexico, lifted a ravel ban on people from several Muslim-majority countries and reversed plans to exclude undocumented people from the 2020 census.
Biden has alo promised to work to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act, a program started in 2012 shielding hundreds of thousands of people who came to the US as kids from being deported.
Biden performed unusually poorly with Hispanic voters in the 2020 presidential election, losing them first to rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the primary, and then by underperforming among Latinos against Trump in the general election.
The U.S. Navy named a ship for Chavez, a veteran, in 2012. Notably, Chavez opposed illegal immigration, seeing it as a threat to the wages of unionized workers legally present in the United States.