Cecilia Muoz, a University of Michigan alum and former resident policymaker at the Ford School of Public Policy, was named White House director of intergovernmental affairs by President-elect Barack Obama last week.
We're continuing to build a White House team that can rise to the challenges facing this country and I couldnt be more excited to announce Jon and Cecilia, Obama said in a statement, in which he also named 27-year-old Jonathan Favreau his speechwriting director. I'm confident that at a critical time in our history, this White House will restore openness and accountability to our Executive Branch and help to put government back in the hands of the people it serves."
Muoz will supervise the White House office responsible for managing relations between the Obama administration and state and local governments.
Currently, Muoz is a senior vice president for the Washington, D.C.-based National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic-American advocacy organization in the country. At NCLR, she focuses on legislative issues involving immigration policy, civil rights, education and poverty.
She also chairs the board of the Center for Community Change, an advocacy group for low-income people of color. In 2000, she won a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, or genius grant, for her work as a civil rights policy analyst.
Muoz, a Detroit native whose parents are from Bolivia, is a first-generation U.S. citizen but a third-generation University graduate. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and Latin American Studies from the University in 1984.
During the Winter 2007 semester, Muoz served as the Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence at the School of Public Policy, where she also taught a course. Muoz also delivered the School of Public Policy's Spring 2008 commencement address.
As part of her residence at the School of Public Policy, Muoz delivered the Towsley Foundation Lecture in March 2007 titled Latinos, immigration policy and the national interest.
In her speech, she emphasized the need for effective immigration reform policies.
These new policies, she said, should include increased enforcement at U.S. borders and inside the country, a new system in which employers can reliably validate their employees' work statuses, the creation of national ID cards and new paths to citizenship for the approximately 12 million people illegally living in the U.S.
Muoz said she believes that Americans, for the most part, support immigration policies that would allow illegal immigrants to become citizens.
When faced with the real policy options, which are deporting 12 million people which is unlikely and hugely expensive and giving those people the ability to earn permanent status and citizenship over time, the American public chooses the legalization path, and thats been demonstrated over and over again in independent polls over the last five years, she said.
But first, she added, politicians, policymakers and citizens alike must recognize that there is a market for undocumented immigrant workers, and that as long as theres demand for these workers, illegal immigration will continue.
The idea is to acknowledge that this is going to happen, and regulate it, she said.