Never before has a president had a “so many Latino candidates” like Joe Biden to be able to choose the top positions in his cabinet, say large Hispanic organizations, which are demanding that Joe Biden consider names like Xavier Becerra, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Tom Perez or Arturo Rodriguez to give voice to the community that helped him win.
The petition to the president-elect is part of the Project 20% initiative, which urges the federal government to reflect the diversity and contributions of the nation’s Latino population.
“We are advocating to ensure that at least 20% of the approximately 4,000 appointments that will have to be covered by the incoming Joe Biden administration are filled by Latinos,” explained Janet Murguia, president of UnidosUS.
This organization, the National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), Hispanic Federation and Mi Familia Vota are driving the initiative.
“The list of exceptionally qualified Latinos and Latinas is long and solid, never before has an incoming administration had such a deep Latino bank,” said NALEO Executive Director Arturo Vargas.
In addition to 20% of administration-wide positions for Latinos, which would represent about 800 appointments, Vargas advocates for Latinos to be appointed to at least five cabinet-level positions.
The activist said that the four issues that the president-elect has identified as priorities for his administration, covid-19, economic recovery, racial equality and climate change, affect the Hispanic community disproportionately.
Therefore, he said, it is “fundamental to include Latino voices at the policy and implementation table when addressing these challenges.
It is argued that the number is representative of the historical commitment and record participation of Hispanic voters in the last election.
“It is logical that we build on this success to assert our place at the national policy table and demand equal representation in this government,” the activist concluded.
Although the list is quite long, these are some of the names under consideration for the most important cabinet posts.
Xavier Becerra is the name of the first Latino to be elected as California’s attorney general and is one of the most vocal on the lists for one of the administration’s most important posts.
Becerra has more than 20 years of legislative experience, became the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress, and has sued the administration of President Donald Trump more than 90 times from the California Attorney General’s Office on issues including education, the environment, the economy, health care, and the defense of immigrants.
The Mexican-born prosecutor is being considered to head the Department of Justice (DOJ), making him the second Hispanic in history to head the department, after former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in the George W. Bush administration.
Becerra’s name has also been heard for heading the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a position that would put him on the other side of the balance, since the prosecutor has sued this agency several times in recent years in its defense of immigrants.
Tom Perez is the current Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and former Secretary of Labor in the Barack Obama administration from 2013 to 2017 also sounds like a candidate to be the head of the Justice Department.
Perez, of Dominican roots, made history by being the first Latino to lead the Democratic Party in 2017. Although the party took over the U.S. presidency on November 3, its critics criticize the DNC’s work for reducing Democrats’ seats in the House of Representatives.
Alejando Mayorkas, who has Cuban roots, is in the running for the head of the DHS, a department he knows well, since he was its undersecretary during the Obama administration, although he failed to be confirmed by the Senate.
To his credit is the implementation of the Deferred Action Action (DACA) program when he was director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
DHS runs three of the most powerful immigration agencies. USCIS, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Bureau of Customs Enforcement (CBP)
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is one of the names on an extensive list of women who are also being considered.
Lujan Grisham would be a serious candidate to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
Grisham ordered a study that seeks to implement a public option for health care at the state level, which is in line with Biden’s push to create one at the federal level.
Arturo Rodriguez is one of the most prominent figures among unions in the country. For more than 25 years he led the United Farm Workers, retiring in 2018 to leave Teresa Romero at the head of the union.
The name of Rodriguez, a native of Texas, is on the deck to head the Department of Agriculture.
Eric Garcetti, Hilda Solis or Catherine Cortez Mastó, are the long list of possible candidates found by a good number of Hispanics elected by the voters.
Among them is the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, to head the Department of Transportation, or the Los Angeles County Supervisor, Hilda Solis, who already served as Secretary of Labor in Obama’s first term.
Julian Castro, Linda Sanchez, Nydia Velasquez, Ruben Gallego, Nanette Barragan and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto are among the congressmen who are also in the high profile Hispanic field.
Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, former ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte and even Monica Lozano, executive director of La Opinión, are also on the list to fill the dozens of positions.
“There is no shortage of qualified Latinos and Latinas to choose from to ensure that there is a presidential administration that accurately reflects the diversity of the American nation.