MILWAUKEE (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Hispanic issues took center stage the first day of the Democratic National Convention. 

“The Latino vote is going to be more crucial than ever before,” said Julian Castro, speaking at the DNC’s Hispanic Caucus meeting Monday.

Castro is the former Secretary of Housing & Urban Development during the Obama Administration. 

This November, some analysts expect that for the first time, Hispanic citizens will be the largest minority group to vote in a presidential election. 

“Think about it. In 2016, we lost to Donald Trump in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by just 77,000 votes collectively,” Castro said. “Latinos have been growing in those states.” 

Speakers laid out their top priorities for a Biden-Harris administration. They included raising the minimum wage, access to healthcare, and jobs protections.

Immigration tends to be a big priority for Latinx voters. A Pew Research Center poll showed the number one immigration issue Hispanic voters want solved is finding a path to citizenship for people who are undocumented. 

“Americans who value the contributions of immigrants support Joe Biden’s proposal,” said Leopoldo Martinez, the Hispanic Caucus Finance Chair. “100-day moratorium on deportation, family reunification, strengthening asylum protections for those who need safe harbor from persecution or oppression. And a path to citizenship for all good people, working people.” 

“No matter what Trump tries: to kill DACA, to deport us, to put us in detention camps and cages, we are here to stay,” said Greisa Martinez Rosas, the executive director of United We Dream Action. “Because home is here.” 

Just as central to the two-hour session Monday was coronavirus, and how the pandemic is disproportionately impacting the Latinx community. 

“We already know, first of all, that Latinos face barriers to access healthcare,” said Senator Catherine Cortez Mastro, D-Nevada. “And serious health disparities that put us at higher risk for chronic illnesses like asthma and heart disease.” 

The disparity for Hispanic people isn’t just in higher infection or death rates. “Many in our community find themselves designated as essential workers,” said Sen. Cortez Mastro, D-Nevada. “In every industry, from healthcare, education, to agriculture and hospitality, Latinos are putting their own health at risk while working on frontlines to help others in need during this pandemic.” 

Leaders said the only way to achieve these goals is to get out the Latinx vote. 

“No matter what state you’re in, make sure that we drive out the vote in November,” said Castro. 

The Hispanic Caucus will meet again Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. CST.