Hispanic leaders contend that because Latino voters played a key role in President Barack Obama’s re-elected victory, Latinos deserve to have more political power within the Obama administration and be appointed to the Obama cabinet.
More than 70 percent of the Latino vote went to Obama last November, and Latinos made up a record 10 percent of the electorate, according to national exit polls.
Rafael Collazo, campaign political director for the National Council of La Raza, said it would be “unacceptable” to have no Latinos appointed to the Obama cabinet given the support the president received from Latinos during last year’s elections.
“We not only had a historic voter turnout, we also showed more than anything that Latinos are patriotic and want to serve in the cabinet and in all levels of [Obama's] administration,” he told VOXXI.
Collazo added that NCRL would continue monitoring the cabinet appointment process as well as advocating for Latinos to serve in all levels of government.
“Cabinet is extremely important to us, but we are also looking at how we can build the bench of elected Latinos,” he told VOXXI.
Pressure to appoint Latinos to the Obama cabinet
NCLR is one of the national Latino groups that are calling on Obama to appoint at least two Latinos to his cabinet, following the resignations of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
There are very good qualified candidates and some of them are currently serving in the Administration.
One such example is Francisco Sanchez, the undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade. He is currently the highest ranking Latino serving in an economic policy position and a strong candidate to be Secretary of Commerce or for the top position of the Office of the US Trade Representative.
As of now, Obama will begin his second term on Jan. 21 with no Latinos in his cabinet. But Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota, said the president has the opportunity to change that and is calling on him to do so.
“He has the power to appoint more Latinos to positions of power in his administration,” Monterroso told VOXXI of Obama.
He added that it’s also critical that the Obama administration—as well as elected officials—address the issues important to Latinos, a group that is growing in numbers and political power. Those issues include the economy, immigration and education.
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), which represents more than 6,000 Latino elected and appointed officials, is another group calling for the appointment of Latinos to the Obama cabinet.
Max Sevillia, director of policy and legislative affairs at NALEO, told VOXXI the leading motive encouraging Obama to appoint Latinos should not only be last year’s Latino voter turnout in support of the president. It should also be the desire to have a cabinet that is fully reflective of the diversity in the United States, he said.
“We’re concerned that the cabinet at the moment doesn’t reflect the diversity seen within the population of the country,” Sevillia told VOXXI. “The new secretaries who have been appointed, none of them conform to the idea of diversity that we are seeking.”