Published January 22, 2013
Washington – Just minutes after his inauguration speech, President Barack Obama officially submitted his three top Cabinet nominations to the Senate from the Capitol's President's Room in the White House, following tradition.
Obama's signed nomination papers included John Brennan to be CIA director, former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to be secretary of state and his current chief of staff, Jack Lew, for treasury secretary.
But juxtaposed with White House formalities is the ever-growing voice from Latino leaders who are keeping a mindful eye on the diversity of Obama's cabinet. Following the resignations of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, there could be no Latinos in Obama's second term Cabinet.
The angst of Latino groups has quickly turned to demands, evident in a letter sent to the White House by the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, just days before inauguration festivities. The list included a list of 19 potential Latino candidates for still-open Cabinet posts, with the expectation that Obama will pick at least three Latinos for his second term.
"With the Latino community heading into the epicenter of an historic policy debate around immigration reform, and related policies, your Cabinet can ill-afford to not have the unique perspective and voice of high-level Latino members," according to the letter from the group, which represents 30 of the nation's leading civil rights organizations.
“It's just an issue of fairness. Obviously, Latinos did deliver,” said Hector Sanchez, leader of the group, to Fox News Latino last week. “We want at least three Latino Cabinet members, we believe that is a fair reflection of the diversity of the nation.”
The concern was echoed by outgoing Labor Secretary Solis, the first Hispanic to ever hold that position, in an interview with Fox News Latino last week. She also expressed confidence that Obama would make sure that Latinos had a voice at the table.
Obama lauded his first term's White House and Cabinet staff as one of the most diverse in history, noting that criticism over the lack of women and minorities in his second-term Cabinet positions are premature.
"I'm very proud that in the first four years, we had as diverse, if not more diverse, White House and a Cabinet than any in history, and I intend to continue that," President Obama said.
"I would just suggest that everybody kind of wait until they've seen all of my appointments, who's in the White House staff and who's in my Cabinet before they rush to judgment," he added.
Here's the list the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda submitted to the president:
Richard Henry Carmona, Former U.S. Surgeon General
Gilbert Frank Casellas, Non-Executive Chairman of OMINTRU
Cesar Conde, President of Univision Communications, Inc.
Maria Echaveste, Former U.S. Presidential Advisor to President Clinton.
Joe Echeverria, Chief Executive Officer of Deloitte, LLP.
Charles (“Charlie”) González, Former Texas congressman.
Raúl M. Grijalva, Arizona congressman.
Antonia Hernández, President/CEO of the California Community Foundation.
Vilma Socorro Martínez, U.S. Ambassador to Argentina.
Gloria Molina, Los Angeles County Supervisor.
Thomas (“Tom”) E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General at U.S. Justice Department.
Silvestre Reyes, Former Texas congressman.
Francisco J. Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Linda Sánchez, California congresswoman.
Maria Contreras-Sweet, Founder/Executive Chairwoman of Promérica Bank.
Linda Chavez-Thompson, Vice-Chairwoman of the Democratic National Convention.
Solomon (“Sol”) Trujillo, Former CEO of Telstra.
Nydia M. Velázquez, New York congresswoman.
Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Los Angeles mayor.