January 10, 2012
By MARK LANDLER
The White House said Tuesday that Cecilia Muñoz, who has led its efforts to overhaul immigration laws, had been named director of the Domestic Policy Council, making her one of President Obama’s chief advisers on a broad swath of issues, including education and gay rights.
Ms. Muñoz, the highest-ranking Hispanic in the White House, had served as director of intergovernmental affairs. She replaces Melody Barnes, who left this month. Her promotion is notable because it comes at the start of an election year in which Hispanic voters are expected to play a major role.
“Over the past three years, Cecilia has been a trusted adviser who has demonstrated sound judgment day in and day out,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “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 daughter of immigrants from Bolivia, Ms. Muñoz was a longtime top official at the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights group, where she became known as a fervent advocate for changes in United States immigration policy.
But her efforts to build on that record in the Obama administration have produced mixed results. In 2010, the White House was unable to win a vote in Congress on the Dream Act, the centerpiece of its immigration agenda. Since then, Ms. Muñoz has worked to find administrative ways to slow down the deportation of illegal immigrants – an issue that stirs up deep resentment among many Hispanics.
She has pushed a proposed rule change that would keep families together while a family member files for residency rights. Despite some criticism that she has not taken a strong enough stand against deportations, Ms. Muñoz’s appointment was generally praised by immigration advocates and Hispanic groups.
Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said Ms. Muñoz’s appointment “creates new opportunities to bring the multiple contributions of immigrants into the forefront of discussions about our nation’s domestic policy needs, including immigration policy.”
The appointment fills a key post at a White House that has been buffeted this week by the resignation of the chief of staff, William M. Daley. Mr. Daley, who last week told Mr. Obama that he wanted to return to his native Chicago after a year on the job, was replaced by the budget director, Jacob J. Lew.
The White House did not announce a replacement for Mr. Lew, nor say when it might name one. Mr. Lew will stay in his post for the rest of the month to complete the current budget, said Jay Carney, the White House spokesman.
In her previous post, Ms. Muñoz was responsible for the White House’s relations with state and local governments.
Among others who praised Ms. Muñoz’s appointment was the House Democratic leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who said she had “a sterling reputation as a powerful voice on behalf of comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform.”
Ms. Muñoz was also welcomed by a major Catholic group, Catholics United, which said that in choosing her, “the Obama administration has signaled how important the faith community is to their governing agenda.”
Source: New York Times