Hispanics hit Obama on Cabinet

Hispanic lawmakers criticized President Obama during a White House meeting on Wednesday for not appointing more Hispanics to his administration.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus expressed disappointment in the lack of Hispanics given posts by Obama, according to one attendee.

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Two Hispanics were in Obama’s first-term Cabinet, but both have left the administration. While Energy Department Secretary Ernest Moniz’s parents are Portuguese, some don’t believe he qualifies because Moniz doesn’t consider himself Hispanic.

Obama told the lawmakers during Wednesday’s meeting that he heard they had taken one of his staffers “to task” on the issue. But the president didn’t provide much reassurance about appointing more Hispanics to his administration, one attendee said.

“He stepped around it,” said one lawmaker who attended the meeting.

The issue came up last month during a meeting between lawmakers and White House staff.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus members asked a White House aide for a report breaking down Obama’s appointments by race.

But the aide did not provide such a report.

“People in the caucus want to see those numbers,” the lawmaker said.

Obama’s first Cabinet included Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who are both Hispanic.

The president has previously come under pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) over his appointments.

Some members of the CBC had been openly miffed that Obama did not nominate more African Americans to his Cabinet. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), the chairwoman of the caucus, wrote a letter to Obama that criticized his Cabinet appointments, adding that they had “hardly been reflective of the country’s diversity.”

But in a White House meeting between CBC members and Obama on Tuesday, Fudge thanked Obama for nominating former Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx as Transportation secretary and Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and moved on to other matters.

During the meeting with Hispanic lawmakers on Wednesday, the caucus members said there was little daylight between themselves and Obama on most issues.

But some lawmakers said they did not see eye-to-eye on issues such as deportation.

“He didn’t entertain any discussion on this,” according to one person in the room.

Obama has increased the number of deportations of illegal immigrants from the levels of the Bush administration.