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Latino Activists Call For Secretary Posts In Obama’s Second Term

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Aired 1/14/13

As President Barack Obama enters into his second term, he’s building a new cabinet. Thus far, all his nominees to replace outgoing cabinet members have been white men.

Department of Labor

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis just announced her retirement, leaving just one Latino member of President Barack Obama's cabinet.

— As President Barack Obama enters into his second term, he’s building a new cabinet. Thus far, all his nominees to replace outgoing cabinet members have been white men. One of the two Latinos currently serving in the cabinet – Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis – just announced her retirement.

Latino political activists are watching the process closely to see how they are going to be represented in the White House.

In the first Obama administration two cabinet posts were filed by Latinos – Solis and Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar.

In the second Obama administration many advocates are calling for even stronger Latino representation.

“We expect the president to have -- at the very least -- two Latino cabinet appointments. But as a position we are renewing our request that he raises the number to a total of three Latino members," said Hector Sanchez, president of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda.

Sanchez said he’s working with the administration to develop a catalog of qualified Latino candidates for consideration.

Two names that are being talked about are Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and recently retired San Antonio Congressman Charlie Gonzalez.

Angelo Falcon, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, says they’re also working on finding qualified Latinos to fill undersecretary positions.

“Use this opportunity to raise the issue of Latino representation in subcabinet departments. We are the most underrepresented group in federal government employment," he said.

Falcon said his biggest concern that Latinos will not have a place at the White House cabinet table when it’s time to cut down the federal budget.

“It’s extremely important for our community to be at the table in these major discussions.” And Falcon said, if you aren’t at that table, you’re on the menu.

“After all this hype on the Latino vote, all of a sudden the dust settles and woomp -- we’re still not at the table," Falcon said.

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