After watching the political conventions, I would have assumed that both parties were launching huge campaigns to reach out to the Latino vote. I was expecting an enormous effort from the Obama campaign promoting a successful record of helping Latinos. But the closer you look at the facts, the more you realize that once again, President’s Obama’s rhetoric is much more appealing than his record.
While President Obama has failed to foster a pro-growth environment to help increase job opportunities in the private sector for Latinos, his performance in the Federal workforce is worse.
After nearly four years in office, the Obama Administration’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reported that Hispanics are under represented in the Federal workforce. Really? Wow! Clearly they deserve an award for this discovery. So did they move to implement policies to increase job opportunities for Latinos in the Federal government? Like everything else with the Obama Administration when it comes to Latinos, it’s all talk, no action.
After three years of no growth from 2008 through 2010, the latest report from OPM showed that the Hispanic representation in the Federal workforce increased by only 0.1 percent. In four years, from 2008 through 2011, the representation of Hispanics in the federal workforce increased by a pathetic 0.1 percent and currently stands at 8.1 percent. The representation of Hispanics in the civilian labor force increased from 13.2 percent in 2008 to 13.6 percent in 2011.
OPM Reports show that during the Bush presidency, Hispanic representation in the Federal workforce increased a full 2 percent. So we’re losing ground here. As a public relations move, the Obama Administration formed the Hispanic Council on Federal Employment (HCFE) “to help us identify barriers, and implement solutions to address the needs and concerns of the Hispanic community.”
And the result was a disaster. But that shouldn’t surprise anyone. In fact, if it wasn’t for the growth of employment opportunities at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration and border patrols and clearly need Latino workers, the Obama administration would have actually lowered the percentage of Latinos in the Federal government.
As always, the Obama administration would never admit their failure. Instead of admitting that their effort didn’t work, they found one aspect of the report that sounded positive and they focused entirely on it. “Hispanic new hires doubling in the Senior Executive Service to 5.4%, we are moving in the right direction.” Nice! So let’s look at the actual numbers. Oh well, let’s not talk about that either.
The fact is that this big movement in the right direction was a mere 9 new jobs. Yes, only NINE jobs. Walmart and Home Depot probably hire more Latino managers and executives every month. This would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad.
Maybe we should begin a serious debate about the growth of the Federal workforce. Maybe it’s time we realize that Latinos are better served at the State and local government level, where we see real gains in employment opportunities. The idea of block grants to the states might be the best way to increase Latino participation and increase our access to employment opportunities and decision making jobs. If more jobs are available in cities with large Latino populations like Los Angeles, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Las Vegas and Denver, rather than concentrating them in DC, we will see real diversity in government.
One question that bothers me is why are the Latino politicians and the organizations that are supposed to be protecting the interest of Latinos so quiet about these numbers? When it was a Republican President, they were burning down the castle because the growth was too slow. Now we have a Democratic President and the trend of employment not only slowed down, but in many cases reversed, yet they apologize and find excuses for their political allies.
Latinos from all parties should be demanding action from the Federal government, and pressure the White House to reissue the Hispanic Inclusion Executive Order that Clinton originally signed in 2000. But they refuse to do so because calling out Obama’s failure could cost him politically. And for most of these so-called “Latino leaders”, politics are more important than policy.
I expect this from Latino political hacks, but in this case it’s the Hispanic advocacy organizations the ones failing our community
Clearly the squeaky wheel gets the oil, and by now, everyone should be aware that the Obama administration only reacts to political blackmail and threats to hold back support. For three and a half years they did not move a finger on immigration reform, and they only paid lip service during months before elections. But when pressured by young Latino activists, Obama moved hastily to throw them a bone.
Governor Romney's record is as troubling. I have yet to hear of one senior level latino appointee during his years as Massachusetts governor or during his tenure at Bain Capital. That's not a good sign.
Once again, the presidential candidate with the strongest record and the most attractive proposals is Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee for president. His record appointing Latinos to the most senior positions while serving as governor of New Mexico was second to none. Also, his calls for block granting most federal programs to the states would be a huge boom to increase Latino representation in government.
If we want real action we must demand real results and not just empty promises. Latino advocacy groups need to put their political preferences aside and demand results from President Obama now, before the election.
Robert G. Deposada is the founder and past President of The Latino Coalition and Latinos for Reform, and served as Director of Hispanic Affairs at the Republican National Committee under Chairman Lee Atwater.