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Isabella Guzman, Isabel Guzman, first Latina SBA Administrator,

Isabella Casillas Guzman confirmed as new SBA Administrator, a big win for small businesses

Isabella Casillas Guzman has been confirmed as the 27th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. A Latina business leader, Guzman is among a group of high-caliber Latinos that were nominated by the Biden Administration. 

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet, Isabel Guzman, Isabella Guzman, first Latina SBA Administrator

Isabella Casillas Guzman, first Latina SBA Administrator. (State of California, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

This past Tuesday, on March 16, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee with broad bipartisan support, 81-17 votes as Administrator of the SBA. In this position, Guzman will represent the more than 30 million U.S. small businesses and lead an agency committed to helping small business owners and entrepreneurs start, grow and be resilient.

Commenting on Guzman’s appointment, Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin (D-MD) said: 

 “SBA must continue to be a lifeline for small businesses in the months ahead, and I am confident that Isabel Guzman is the best person to lead the agency out of the pandemic and through the economic recovery to follow. Mrs. Guzman’s commitment to equity and her deep knowledge of the needs of small businesses will make her a strong advocate for all small businesses in the Biden Administration. I am looking forward to working with Mrs. Guzman as we in Congress work to fine-tune SBA to better meet the needs of small businesses in Black, Latino, Native, and other underserved communities.”

Administrator Guzman will lead a workforce of over 9,000 SBA employees and administer the SBA’s portfolio of loans, investments, disaster assistance, contracting, and counseling.  Additionally, she will implement critical financial relief for small businesses impacted by the pandemic through the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program, and additional support recently passed in the American Rescue Plan.

Isabella Guzman, Isabel Guzman, first Latina SBA Administrator,

Isabella Guzman previously worked in the SBA during the Obama administration as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser. (U.S Small Business Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

“Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, I learned firsthand the ins and outs of managing a business from my father and gained an appreciation for the challenges small business owners face every day.  Throughout my public and private sector career, I have been dedicated to helping small businesses grow and succeed,” said Administrator Guzman. “Now more than ever, our impacted small businesses need our support, and the SBA stands ready to help them reopen and thrive.”  

Previously, Guzman served as the director of the Office of Small Business Advocate in the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development where she served California’s four million small businesses, which employ 7.1 million Californians, the largest state network of small businesses in the country. Prior to her work in California, she worked in the SBA during the Obama administration as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser. Guzman has also started small businesses as an entrepreneur. 

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 “I am excited to return to the SBA and serve as the voice of small business in the Biden-Harris Administration. I am committed to championing the Agency’s mission and helping equitably build back the economy,” Administrator Guzman continued. “I also look forward to working with the dedicated team of SBA professionals to ensure that the SBA creates and sustains inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems for all of our diverse small businesses across the nation to thrive.”

FEMA to help shelter influx of migrant children at the border

Roughly 4,000 young migrants were in Customs and Border Protection facilities this week, more than the 2,600 children and teenagers held in such detention facilities in June 2019. In February,  9,457 children, including teenagers, were detained at the border without a parent in February, up from more than 5,800 in January.

Photo by Phil Botha on Unsplash

The Biden administration so far has not been able to quickly process the young migrants and transfer them to shelters managed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The administration has struggled to expand the capacity of those shelters, and has recently directed the shelters to normal capacity, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, the Biden administration is directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist in processing the increasing number of young migrants as criticism mounts over their treatment in detention facilities.

FEMA will help find shelter space and provide “food, water and basic medical care” to thousands of young migrants, Michael Hart, a spokesman for the agency, said in a statement.

Additionally, the Homeland Security Department has been asked to volunteer “to help care for and assist unaccompanied minors” who have been held in border jails that are managed by Customs and Border Protection.

The Health and Human Services Department also opened a temporary facility for the children and teenagers on Sunday in Midland, Texas, to help migrants out of the border facilities, according to Mark Weber, a spokesman for the agency. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republicans have characterized the increase in border crossings as a direct result of Mr. Biden’s goal to roll back President Donald J. Trump’s restrictive immigration policies.“They express surprise and shock about the fact that they are overwhelmed, when the Border Patrol and really everybody here in Texas has known that this is coming,” Mr. Abbott said.

However, President Biden has kept a Trump-era pandemic emergency rule that empowers border agents to rapidly turn away migrants at the border, with the exception of unaccompanied minors.

Latinxs children detention centers

Protests in Elizabeth, NJ about immigrant children detention. Photo credit Chris Boese – Unsplash.com

Officials from the Health and Human Services Department have also been placed at border facilities in an attempt to find sponsors for migrant children faster. 

Last week, the administration rescinded a 2018 agreement that allowed the agency to share certain information about sponsors for the children with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigration advocates said the agreement discouraged relatives of the youths from stepping forward to sponsor them, creating a backlog in the system.

Representative Veronica Escobar, Democrat of Texas, said she found the situation at a processing facility that she had toured in El Paso on Friday “unacceptable.”

“A Border Patrol facility is no place for a child,” Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, said in a statement on Saturday. “Our goal is to ensure that unaccompanied children are transferred to H.H.S. as quickly as possible.”