The White House announced today that Cecilia Muñoz will serve as the president’s domestic policy adviser — putting an expert on immigration policy and a prominent Hispanic advocate in the post vacated by Melody Barnes.
Muñoz has served as the director of intergovernmental affairs under Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and has been in the thick of the administration’s struggles with immigration policy in the midst of Congressional gridlock.
Muñoz had been a top official at the National Council of La Raza before joining the Obama administration.
She had come under criticism from some immigration advocates last year for defending the administration’s enforcement policies, but she also has strong support among other advocates who feel she is a voice for them inside the White House.
In recent months the administration has taken several steps to ratchet down the enforcement of immigration laws against illegal immigrants who have not committed serious crimes — including a recent announcement allowing some illegal immigrants to apply for green cards via hardship waivers.
But the White House noted Muñoz’s portfolio has been far broader than simply immigration issues, including coordinating with state and local governments on health care, disaster relief and transportation.
Obama called Muñoz a “trusted adviser” who “has done an extraordinary job working on behalf of middle class families.”