Immigrant advocates praise, criticize Obama’s decision to appoint Cecilia Muñoz

By | 01.11.12 | 10:06 am

President Barack Obama (Pic by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien, via Wikimedia Commons)

President Obama’s decision to appoint Cecilia Muñoz to head his Domestic Policy Council Tuesday brings to the forefront the controversy among immigrant advocate organizations about the current administration’s immigration policy.

The Hill reports that “the White House announced Tuesday that Cecilia Muñoz, a former senior vice president of the National Council of La Raza, would replace Melody Barnes at the top of the council. White House press secretary Jay Carney announced the appointment during his press briefing.”

The National Council of La Raza is the “largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.”

The Hill adds that “Muñoz is now serving as the White House’s director of intergovernmental affairs and is in charge of outreach to state and local governments.”

In a White House briefing, President Obama explained, “Over the past three years, Cecilia has been a trusted advisor who has demonstrated sound judgment day in and day out.” And: “Cecilia has done an extraordinary job working on behalf of middle class families, and I’m confident she’ll bring the same unwavering dedication to her new position.”

The National Immigration Forum said Tuesday in a written statement that it “applauds President Obama’s decision to name Cecilia Muñoz as head of the Domestic Policy Council.  Clearly, President Obama values the expertise and guidance of smart, committed, experts like Ms. Munoz.”

The Immigration Forum added that “with this move, the pressure is on the President to move forward with an aggressive domestic policy agenda that serves the nation’s interests by

  • Focusing immigration enforcement resources on national security threats not immigrant workers and families caught up in a broken system;
  • Fully implementing important, and welcome, changes at the Department of Homeland Security with regards to prosecutorial discretion and allowing American families to remain together while their loved ones apply for legal status

A November article published in the liberal American Prospect stated: “When president-elect Barack Obama named Cecilia Muñoz as director of intergovernmental affairs at the White House, Latino nonprofits and media outlets celebrated.”

The Prospect added: “Instead, Muñoz has become the administration’s Spanish-language mouthpiece on immigration policy. When answering questions about the rising number of deportations and detentions; the rapid expansion of immigration-enforcement programs like Secure Communities; and the failure to provide short-term, administrative relief in the absence of an immigration-reform bill, Muñoz sounds as if she is reading a script from the Bush era.”

Controversy over Muñoz’s role in the Obama administration, according to New America Media, “may reveal a difference of opinion within the immigrant rights movement over which strategy to take when advocating for the rights of immigrants in the United States.”

New America Media added that “Presente.org, the immigrant rights group that led the petition to get CNN’s Lou Dobbs off the air, is demanding that Muñoz denounce the Secure Communities program,” but “in response, a group of some of the nation’s leading immigrant advocacy organizations released a statement” in support of Muñoz.

The statement of support “was signed by 18 organizations including the Center for Community Change, National Council of La Raza, Asian American Justice Center, National Immigration Forum, America’s Voice and National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.”

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