CHICAGO (WLS) -- First Lady Jill Biden is in Chicago Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a multi-city tour marking the final week of Hispanic Heritage Month.
President Joe Biden traveled to the Chicago area Thursday to promote vaccine mandates, and the announcement was made soon after that the first lady would be visiting, as well.
Jill Biden arrived a Chicago Midway Airport Tuesday from Kansas City, where she was greeted by Governor JB Pritzker, Senator Tammy Duckworth and Chicago Mayor Lori LIghtfoot. She will leave Wednesday morning, according to the White House.
The first lady spent the morning listening to leaders and trailblazers in the Hispanic community during what the White House is calling a "charla," or a chat.
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Dr. Biden heard stories of independent success from the country's fastest-growing demographic. She was then given a private tour of the National Museum of Mexican Art and the Arturo Velasquez Institute, accompanied by U.S. Congressman Chuy Garcia.
Dr. Biden was particularly moved by the museum's annual Day of the Dead exhibit, which this year focused on members of the Latino community who have died from COVID-19. She spoke exclusively with ABC7 Eyewitness News after the tour.
"All these people here in the pictures that you see are people that have died in this community in Chicago," she said. "It's so important that we come and we honor them."
This tour was intentionally designated solely for the Latino population.
"The visit here is a recognition of the vitality that communities like this community bring to the city of Chicago," Rep. Garcia said.
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"I'm visiting Latinos and talking about healthcare, talking about small business, talking about traditions and education and, you know, issues that are important to the community to the Latino community," the first lady said. "I want them to know the administration hears them and sees them, and hopefully I'm Joe's eyes and ears and I can take back what I've learned and what they're telling me."
But Biden's critics, including a pair who came to publicly object to the Pilsen stop, said that's not true.
"And I believe she's here to Hispander to the Mexican community, the Hispanic community," said one protester, who did not give her name. "They've been waving a carrot in front of them even since Obama was here."
"It's a little too late for the Biden administration to come in days before Hispanic Heritage Month ends and try to pretend with a community they've abandoned with core policies," said Prey Samsundar, regional spokesperson for the Republican National Committee.
Dr. Biden's chief of staff and education secretary, two high ranking Latina women in the administration, will join in on a charla on the topic about which the first lady is most passionate.
"I have so many Latino students in my classroom and we just need to lift them up, and get them to graduate and get jobs and make sure they can pay for their education," Dr. Biden said. "It's so important."
"The more contact we can have with the powers that be up there, the better it is," said Carlos Toortorelo, president and founder of the National Museum of Mexican Art. "Education is the backbone of all of us."
The other two stops on the tour include Kansas City, Mo., and Allentown, Penn.
The Republican National Committee released a statement about Dr. Biden's visit, saying: "While Jill Biden and Democrats pander to communities their policies have abandoned, the RNC continues to invest in Hispanic communities as it sets out to elect Republicans up and down the ballot through its permanent, data-driven ground game . Jill parachuting into Chicago will not curb mounting concerns about inflation, violent crime , the cost of every day goods spiking sharply as real wages go down, or begin to fix Joe Biden's plummeting approval numbers."
First Lady Jill Biden tour takes her to Chicago to mark end of National Hispanic Heritage Month
Biden plans to visit National Museum of Mexican Art, Arturo Velasquez Institute