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News Taco:  Latinos in Federal Sector Waiting for Concerns to be Heard

With the nomination of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to lead the U.S. Department of Housing of Urban Development (HUD), President Obama has positioned himself as the top president appointing more Hispanics to Cabinet positions.

Since taking office, President Obama has named four Hispanics to Cabinet-level positions: Ken Salazar (Interior), Hilda Solis (Labor), Thomas Perez (Labor), and Maria Contreras-Sweet (Small Business Administration (SBA)).  If the Senate confirms Julian Castro for HUD Secretary, this would give President Obama the lead.

Here is a comparison of President Obama’s record with that of his most recent predecessors. George W. appointed four Hispanics: Carlos Gutierrez (Commerce), Alberto Gonzalez (Attorney General, Justice), Mel Martinez (HUD), and Hector Barreto (SBA). Bill Clinton named four Hispanics to his Cabinet:  Henry Cisneros (HUD), Federico Peña (Transportation), Bill Richardson (Energy and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations), and Aida Alvarez (SBA).

While the efforts of these presidents to include more Hispanics in their Cabinets deserve praise, these appointments are short-term.  They only last as long as the incumbent is in the White House.  After they leave, the political appointees in the Cabinet leave with the president.  So, the impressive Hispanic representation could last only for 4 or 8 years.  Then, it’s back to the drawing board with a new administration.  This is not the change that Hispanics had in mind when they voted for President Obama.

When looking at the progress that Hispanics in the career ranks of the Federal Government have made under President Obama, his record does not look impressive at all.  This is discouraging after considering the number of Hispanics who placed their hopes and aspirations in electing the 44th President of the United States.  67% of Hispanics voted for the Obama/Biden ticket in 2008, and 71% did the same in 2012.

And, yet, the representation of Hispanics during President Obama’s terms has been anemic – nothing to brag about.  From 2009 through 2012, the Hispanic representation in the federal workforce increased by a mere 0.2%, while the gap with the Hispanic representation in the Civilian Labor Force increased by 0.8%.


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