With the secretaries of the different departments already nominated and only a dozen high-level positions unannounced, pro-immigrant activists are calling on President-elect Joe Biden to give a final push to give more diversity to his closest staff.
Biden has nominated three Hispanics for Senate confirmation out of the 15 that will be in his Cabinet, Xavier Becerra (Health), Alejandro Mayorkas (Homeland Security) and Miguel Cardona (Education), precisely 20% of the total that Hispanic groups have been demanding for weeks.
But these groups want more presence in the government and hope that in the important positions still to be known there will be more Hispanics to join the already known Isabel Guzman, who will be in charge of the Small Business Administration (SBA).
If we take into account the secretaries and the Cabinet positions, we would not reach the mentioned percentage of 20%, equal to the Latino weight in the country’s population.
“We should see more Latinos, as well as African Americans and Asians, to reflect the coalition of voters that brought them (Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris) to the White House,” said Diego Iniguez Lopez of the National Partnership for New Americans.
The appointment of Cuban-American Mayorkas to head the Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for immigration issues, is “very good news,” but “we need society to be better reflected in the cabinet,” he added.
The League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC) celebrated the nominations and congratulated Biden for “keeping” his promise to break the two Latino quota held by the Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.
However, for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), there should be at least five Latinos in Cabinet positions to reflect the Hispanic support Biden received in the election.
Oscar Chacon of Alianza Americas told Efe that there should be a number of people in the Cabinet that correlates to the demographic weight of Latin American communities in this country, and the role those voters played in choosing the Biden-Harris formula.
However, beyond the ethnic/cultural representation, the expectation is that each of this administration’s officials will be a strong advocate for the profound changes the country needs, he added.
“We put them where they are, and communities of color would see in a more diverse cabinet an indication that this government is serious,” said Sulma Arias of FIRM.
Nationally, the media estimates that Biden and Harris received approximately 66% of the Hispanic vote, which was a factor in several states in the defeat of President Donald Trump.
Also, attorney and former ambassador Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, born in the Dominican Republic, will be the chief of staff to future first lady Jill Biden, and Pili Tobar, daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, will be the White House deputy director of communications.
Biden chose Julie Chavez Rodriguez, granddaughter of activist and unionist Cesar Chavez, as director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and his wife named Anthony Bernal, former campaign chief of staff and deputy campaign director, as her chief advisor.