Tag: Latinos in Obama’s cabinet

Latino

Richardson Withdraws From Obama Cabinet And Latino Representation Now Looks Slim

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

Richardson and Obama.

Unless another Latino is nominated to be secretary of commerce, Bill Richardson’s exit will leave Latino cabinet representation in the Obama administration at the same level as the Clinton and Bush administrations.

The New Mexico Governor, and would-be highest-profile Latino politician in the incoming Obama administration, has withdrawn his name from consideration for the post of secretary of commerce, a position to which he had been nominated by the President-elect with considerable fanfare in early December.

Richardson stepped down because of uncertainty over the success of his confirmation process – uncertainty caused by a federal investigation into his administration’s dealings with a consulting firm that donated $100,000 to two of his political action committees.

While Richardson said he was confident he and his aides will be eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, he decided to withdraw from the Obama team to avoid delays in the confirmation process. He will stay on as governor of New Mexico.

Richardson — who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination before throwing his support to Obama (despite his longtime association with the Clintons) — apparently had expected to become Obama’s main Latino official, not only dealing with Commerce matters, but also helping improve the currently very cool U.S. relationship with Latin America.  He had also been mentioned as a candidate for secretary of state, and the naming of Hillary Clinton to that post instead caused discomfort in some Latino quarters.

(more…)

Latino

With Hilda Solís At Labor, Obama Rounds Out Latino Contingent in his Cabinet

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Hilda Solis

Hilda Solís

On the heels of a much-criticized decision by the Bush Administration to change the H-2A guest worker program, it looks like one of the public officials who spoke against the change is headed to be the new secretary of labor.

California Rep. Hilda Solís, the 51-year-old daughter of a Mexican father and a Nicaraguan mother, was signaled yesterday as President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for the labor position.

The Associated Press reported that Obama plans to make the designation official today,

Unions, which contributed heavily to Obama and Democrats this year, expect Solis to be an advocate for them and for workers. They expect her to press for legislation that would force businesses to recognize union representation once more than 50 percent of a company’s eligible work force signs union cards, instead of waiting for secret-ballot elections.

Solís becomes the third high-profile Latino official to join the Obama Administration, after the designations of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as secretary of commerce and Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar as interior secretary.

(more…)

Immigration NewsVideos

A Leading Activist Goes From Pressing for Hispanic Appointments to Becoming One


By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

Three weeks ago, as a senior vice president of the National Council of La Raza, Cecilia Muñoz was part of the Hispanic lobby pressing the incoming Obama administration for significant Latino representation in the new cabinet.

A few days after the presidential election, in a story by Politico, Muñoz said Latinos expected to be prominent in the Obama administration. “It’s a foregone conclusion that we should be at the table for policy debates and in a position of authority,” she said.

Wednesday, Muñoz was given a seat at that table, when the Obama transition team announced she will join the White House staff as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Cecilia Muñoz

Cecilia Muñoz

Muñoz was born in Detroit in 1962 to immigrant parents from La Paz, Bolivia. According to The Detroit Free Press, her father was an automotive engineer who moved there to attend the University of Michigan.

Muñoz obtained degrees from the University of Michigan and Berkeley. “While studying at the University of Michigan, she tutored Hispanic Americans incarcerated at the state prison in Jackson,” the Free Press reported.

Muñoz started her pro-immigrant activism in California after college. She later joined NCLR, where she has worked for over twenty years. In 2000, she received a MacArthur Foundation $500,000 “genius grant” for her work on immigration and civil rights, The Washington Post said.

In a 2005 essay for NPR‘s Morning Edition, Muñoz said her activism was born of the outrage she felt at injustice leveled at Hispanics. She remembered a conversation with a friend of her family:

He told me that he thought the U.S. might someday go to war somewhere in Latin America. He looked me in the eye and told me that if it happens, he believes my parents belong in an internment camp just like the Japanese-Americans during World War II.

(more…)

Immigration News

Hispanic Advocates Expect To See Some of Their Own in Incoming Cabinet

Gov. Bill Richardson at the Democratic Convention in Denver.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson at the Democratic Convention in Denver. (Photo: StuffEyeSee/Flickr)

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

After Latino voters came out in big numbers in this election and voted for Barack Obama by a 2-to-1 margin nationally, Latino advocacy groups say they expect to see some of their own named to the president-elect’s incoming cabinet.

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), an umbrella group comprising 26 organizations, sent Sen. Obama a letter on Monday asking him to name New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as the next secretary of state. Richardson — the son of a Mexican mother who grew up in Mexico City — is probably the best-known Hispanic politician in the nation. He made numerous appearances for Obama during the campaign (and his endorsement of Obama instead of Hillary Clinton was a bit of a surprise due to his longstanding relationship with the Clintons.)

(At the same time, Sen. John Kerry deflected reports that he is seeking the secretary of state job.)

But Hispanics advocates aren’t stopping there. According to WashingtonPost.com, they want the Obama Administration to feature “at least two and as many as four” Hispanic cabinet members. Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, told Phillip Rucker,

I’m not one to promote quotas. But I think it would be difficult to see a cabinet at this historic moment in the country that wouldn’t reflect diversity. So it’s our expectation that we would see a diverse cabinet and sub-cabinet.

According to Rucker, some of those being put forward as likely candidates include: Federico Peña, secretary of transportation and energy under President Clinton, who is part of Obama’s transition team; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; AFL-CIO leader Linda Chavez-Thompson; and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif).

(more…)