As Inauguration Day draws near, President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team have worked to fill several Cabinet and administration positions for his incoming government. The lack of Hispanics within Trump's cabinet nominations has caught the attention of some of his supporters as well as Hispanic organisations.
On Wednesday (22 December), Newt Gingrich said he has been speaking to the president-elect about the need to include Hispanics in his administration. "There has to be more Hispanics in the administration," Gingrich said in an interview, according to Politico. "I've been having conversations with them about it."
In the weeks since he was elected, Trump has only formally met with less than a handful of Latino leaders. The incoming president met with Luis Quinonez and Jovita Carranza on Tuesday (20 December), the transition team announced. Quinonez, head of IQ Management Services, and Carranza, CEO of The JCR Group, were both members of Trump's Hispanic Advisory Council.
BloombergPolitics reported that Quinonez is being considered to lead the Veterans Affairs Department. The Guatemala native is a Vietnam War veteran and active participant in the Republican Party. Also being considered for the position is Cleveland Clinic CEO Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, US Navy Admiral Michelle Howard and Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth.
Carranza, a former official in the Small Business Administration, is reportedly being considered for US trade representative, Trump spokesman Jason Miller told reporters during a conference call. Two days after meeting with Carranza and Quinonez, Trump has not announced whether either will join his administration.
The last four presidents have named a Hispanic to a Cabinet post, Politico noted. Ronald Reagan was the first, choosing Lauro Cavazos in 1988 as his education secretary. President George W Bush included three Hispanics in his Cabinet during his two terms.
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Fund has also taken notice of the lack of Hispanics in Trump's Cabinet. In a statement released on 20 December, NALEO said it was "deeply concerned at the lack of Latinos being considered for positions within the cabinet".
"Failing to have representation in the cabinet from the deep bench of talent that exists among the nation's second largest population group would mark an historic and alarming step backwards for America," the statement continued.
The organisation noted that it was reading and willing to work with Trump and his transition team to identify Latino leaders that could "help move the nation forward in the coming four years." Only three Cabinet-level positions remain open: secretary of veteran affairs, agriculture secretary and the US trade representative.
Bill Richardson, a Hispanic who served as energy secretary for Bill Clinton, told Politico: "Picking a Cabinet member would be a way to bring Latinos who didn't support him into the fold. He's going to need them in two years. Republicans are going to need them going forward." Richardson added: "He seems to not be worried about expanding his base."
Gingrich, meanwhile, said he is confident Hispanics will be represented in Trump's administration. "I think you'll see more in deputy slots and other high positions," the former House Speaker said. "They are actively looking and interviewing Hispanic participation in the administration. They are determined to do that."