It’s not immigration reform that has leaders of the Latino community all riled up – it’s the lack of federal jobs.
And they want President Barack Obama to do something about it.
Since the beginning of the year, activists have requested meetings with the president and his delegates, pressing them to make greater progress on diversifying the administration, Politico reported.
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, who attended a meeting at the White House earlier this year, said he has met with White House representatives recently to discuss how to create a permanent pipeline for increasing minority numbers in senior-level agency jobs.
“A more diverse workforce that looks like the face of America is critically important as we look to the administration,” he told Politico, adding that it’s important to not only make sure there are Latinos and Latinas willing to take the positions, but also who are ready are not pushed away for any reason.
The recent appointment by Obama to name Julian Castro as the next secretary of Housing and Urban Development was a welcome sign by activists, but they want more.
“If we don’t start seeing our leadership now, then it’s going to be a deficit for the long term, that’s both political office plus (those) appointed,” said Arizona Rep. Paul Grijalva. “It’s one thing to have profile positions, but for many of us, what really counts is the leadership that is coming up in departments and appointed positions across the country.”
Of the nearly 2 million federal workers, only 8.2 percent are Latinos, who make up about 15 percent of the private job sector and 17 percent of the U.S. population. In an interview with Fox News Latino last month, Katherine Archuleta, the director of the United States Office of Personnel Management, said one of her main tasks is to diversify the federal payroll.
Archuleta called it her “personal mission” to draw in more Latinos to federal government, and she has been trying to achieve this by visiting Latino communities in cities across the country to inform them about the benefits of holding a federal job.
“Hispanics are underrepresented,” said Archuleta, the highest-ranking Hispanic in the Obama administration. “What I can do is broaden their network, and make sure they have this opportunity” to learn about and land federal jobs.
She said one way to increase Latino interest in and access to federal jobs is, for one thing, to “take a surgical approach to hiring.”
“I want to find out where Latinos are, and match them with our efforts,” she said.
Obama has made some notable Hispanic appointments and hires during his tenure, including the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.