Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Latinos Filling More High-Level Government Positions

The nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court has brought the issue of diversity in the federal government to the forefront. Her nomination is no doubt historic, but this fact has distracted from an equally important piece of information: Latinos now make up 11 percent of President Obama’s first 300 nominees for senior administration positions requiring Senate confirmation.

This figure shatters both President George W. Bush’s and President Bill Clinton’s figures, 5.5 and 4.5 percent respectively. Also, Obama has picked Latinos for 26 other White House staff jobs- again more than any of his predecessors. Civil rights groups are praising the Obama administration’s rapid increase in Latino employment.

The increasing number of Latino appointees is also reflecting a shift in Latino power from Texas to California. In the Obama’s administration, 21 of the top Latinos have ties to California while 14 are connected to Texas. Simon Rosenberg, CEO of the Democratic group, NDN, explains that the “Obama administration is simply reflecting the emerging reality of American in the early 21st century.” The rapid increase also points to the fact that the Latino voting bloc in increasing its political clout – this bloc has leaned Democratic in the past two national elections and the Democratic Party would like to keep it that way.

The Obama administration is aware of the accusations that some conservative commentators have issued that diversity is more important than competence. “None of these people have been chosen for their positions for any reason other than that they were the best person available for that position,” said Luis Miranda, a senior White House aide.

Many of the top Latino aides that worked for Bush and Clinton were people with whom they had worked previously. Bush during his time as Texas Governor and Clinton during his time in Texas during the 1972 George McGovern presidential campaign. Since Obama does not have specific ties to Texas, it is no surprise that the majority of the Latinos he appointed hail from California – a state with 13.2 million Latinos.

Some Latino groups believe that this is only the beginning; they would like to see the entire federal workforce mirror the national population. “Here’s our goal: 15 percent of the population of the U.S. is Hispanic. We want our federal agencies to be 15 percent Hispanic,” said Rafael Fantauzzi, president of the National Puerto Rican Coalition Inc. “We are not yet satisfied.”

San Francisco Chronicle