By: Nathaniel BALLANTYNE:
TRUENEWSBLOG – What happened to Latino representation at the White House? Four Latino U.S. senators want to know. Earlier this month, all four Latino Democratic senators sent a letter to President BIDEN with a blunt message: Improve Latino representation at the White House or else. This letter was not released to the media until now.
That letter, which has not been previously reported, also said that at least one more Latino should carry the White House’s most senior title, “assistant to the president,” according to two people with direct knowledge of the contents.
Two Latinos on the first lady’s team — adviser ANTHONY BERNAL and outgoing chief of staff JULISSA REYNOSO — carry that title but none of the 19 “assistants to the president” working on Biden’s team are Latino, according to the most recent staff disclosure.
The four senators — BEN RAY LUJÁN (D-N.M), BOB MENENDEZ (D-N.J.), ALEX PADILLA (D-Calif.), and CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D-Nev.) — opted to keep the letter private in the hope that it would be more productive than a public letter. Spokespeople for the signatories either declined to comment or didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The private outreach reflects a larger frustration among Latino advocates in the Democratic party, lawmakers, and other party officials over the White House’s staffing.
When the White House released a list of staff in July, aides highlighted that 44 percent of Biden appointees were racially and/or ethnically diverse. But that masked the fact that Latinos made up just around 10 percent of White House staff compared to 18.5 percent of the U.S. population, according to the White House’s own internal data at the time, which was privately shared with West Wing Playbook but has not been made public.
“The Latino community is a core part of our ongoing commitment, and their contributions are evident in every part of the Administration’s historic progress to date,” a White House official said in a statement. The official also noted the president’s Cabinet has four Latino members, along with senior White House officials like JULIE CHAVEZ RODRIGUEZ, who leads intergovernmental affairs, and EMMY RUIZ , who runs the political team. Both carry the “deputy assistant to the president” titles.
“While we have made great strides as it relates to diversity in staff representation, we also recognize that progress is a process that can be improved,” the official added. “As part of that, the White House has engaged directly with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other groups focused on Latino/Hispanic representation in government to share open positions, and we’ve implemented new policies to further broaden the applicant pool which have resulted in 18% of recent White House hires identifying as Latino.”
Asked what those “new policies” were, the White House did not immediately provide details.
The tension surrounding Latino hires stands out in a White House that has tried to make diversity a priority. Biden nominated the most diverse Cabinet in American history. As of July according to the same internal data shared with us, about 16 percent of White House staffers were Black and about 17 percent were AAPI compared to 13.4 and 5.9 percent of the population, respectively.But given the Democratic Party’s reliance on Black and Latino voters, advocates often argue that representative hiring ought to be the floor, not the ceiling. Lets hope that that change soon.