U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris AFP

HOUSTON - Vice President Kamala Harris visited Houston on Monday to participate in a discussion moderated by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, part of an effort to shore up support among Latinos as the presidential elections are less than a year away.

During the panel, Harris spoke with caucus Chair Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) about issues affecting the demographic in the U.S., among them abortion, gun violence, mental health and small businesses.

"Hearing you talking reminds me that every issue is a Latino issue, and we know that some have more impact than others," said Rep Garcia during the discussion.

The stop is the latest effort from the Biden-Harris administration to gain support from Latino voters — a group with which they have recently lost ground. According to a Brookings Institute survey, a quarter of Latinos between the ages of 18 and 29 identify with progressive issues; however, they feel the Democratic Party does not align with their values.

According to data from a Cygnal poll, President Biden's lead over former President Trump has diminished in states with large Hispanic electorates such as Florida, Texas Nevada and Arizona. However, Biden still leads in those states over Trump 47 to 43. A separate poll also showed that Trump has gained more support from Latinos since the 2016 election. Concretely, the figures increased from 28 percent in 2016 to 36 percent in 2020, and in 2022 Republicans got 39 percent of the Latino vote, the highest percentage since 2004.

In a recent interview with Latina journalist Maria Hinojosa, Vice President Harris also stated that the current administration is focused on addressing the disconnect Latinos feel with the Democratic Party. According to Harris, this involves addressing issues such as abortion and gun rights.

"We're fighting for things for the people, and we're going to have a fight in front of us in this election to make sure that folks vote," Harris told Hinojosa earlier this month.

During the panel with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Harris outlined the White House's plan to prevent gun violence and improve business opportunities for Latino small businesses. Harris also went to great lengths to reiterate her support and the White House's support for protecting abortion rights.

"The idea that after someone has survived a crime of violence to their body they would be told they have no right to make a decision about what happens to their body next, it's immoral," said Harris.

Abortion is an issue that disproportionately affects Latinas, as birth rates have increased by 4.7% for Hispanic women in states where abortion is illegal. It will likely also be one of the most important issues during the 2024 presidential election, as after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, abortions are only legal in 30 states, despite 61% of Americans supporting the right to abortion.

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