President Barack Obama will appoint Cecilia Muñoz, the administration's lead liaison to the Hispanic community who has been an outspoken advocate of immigration reform, as the next director of the Domestic Policy Council, the White House announced Tuesday.
Muñoz, the daughter of Bolivian immigrants, will succeed Melony Barnes at the top of the council, boosting her to a key position in the Obama administration in an election year when Hispanic voters will be vital in several swing states.
Muñoz is currently serves as the White House director of intergovernmental affairs, a position she has held since 2009. In her current role, she has overseen the Obama administration's relationships with state and local governments, while also leading the administration's effort to reform the immigration system and co-chairing the president's task force on Puerto Rico's status.
Over the past three years, Cecilia has been a trusted adviser who has demonstrated sound judgment day in and day out, Obama said in the White House 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.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to say whether Muñoz's ties to the Hispanic community played any role in her selection.
Cecilia is the best person for the job, Carney said in response to the question.
Before joining the administration, Muñoz worked for the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. The group aims to improve educational and employment opportunities for Hispanic Americans and advocates legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.
A senior Obama administration official told The Hill on Tuesday that Muñoz has been the president's key person on immigration and will continue to give Hispanics a strong voice in her new position.
She's immensely qualified for this position. She's someone who is very much respected by her colleagues, the official said.
Despite her long history as an advocate for immigrants' rights, in October Muñoz was targeted by a Presente.org, an immigrant rights group that created a petition demanding that she denounce the administration's Secure Communities program. The controversy occurred after Muñoz appeared in a PBS Frontline documentary to discuss the record number of deportations under the Obama administration, where she said some immigrant parents should expect to be separated from their children due to the country's broken immigration system.
Even if the law is executed with perfection, there will be parents separated from their children. They don't have to like it, but it is a result of having a broken system of laws, she said.
Mario Solis-Marich, a prominent Hispanic radio personality and blogger, called for Muñoz's resignation after reading her defense of Secure Communities on the White House blog, New American Media reports.
As the director of the Domestic Policy Council, Muñoz will have a prominent role in the policy-making process and will supervise the implementation of domestic policy.