By Nadia Babar and Minahil Rafay
The Biden Administration Series is a series of short articles doing profiles on the politicians Biden is appointing to his Cabinet. Each article will discuss the person’s political history and the potential implications their addition to the administration could have on the public.

Cecilia Muñoz

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  • Party: Democratic
  • Education: University of Michigan (BA), University of California-Berkeley (MA)
  • Director of the Domestic Policy Council under Barack Obama (2012-2017)
  • Director of Intergovernmental Affairs under Barack Obama (2009-2012)
  • Author of More Than Ready: Be Strong and Be You … and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise. (2020)

As of November 13th,  President-elect Joe Biden has added Cecilia Muñoz to his transition team. Muñoz was a part of Barack Obama’s administration for eight years, first as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and then later as the Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. She was the first Latina to serve in that position. Since the end of the Obama administration, Muñoz has been working for New America, a think tank based in Washington D.C. In some circles, she is praised as a voice of the Civil Rights movement and a role model for Latinx women in positions of power. 

Muñoz spent much of her time in the Obama administration defending their extremely harsh immigration policies, including one that resulted in the deportation of thousands of Central American children. Over the course of Obama’s entire tenure, 3 million immigrants were deported. Muñoz was made the public face of this enterprise. She is generally considered the ‘architect’ of the program, ensuring that the deportations would take place. She also justified the decision to kill an executive order that would have halted the deportations. In a 2011 interview, with PBS, Muñoz said the following in regards to these abhorrent decisions:

“At the end of the day, when you have an immigration law that’s broken and you have a community of 10 million, 11 million people living and working in the United States illegally, some of these things are going to happen, even if the law is executed with perfection. There will be parents separated from their children. We don’t have to like it, but it is a result of having a broken system of laws. And the answer to that problem is reforming the law.”

Muñoz is now a part of Biden’s transition team.

This could have multiple implications. Now, Biden has previously stated that these deportations were a big mistake. In an interview with Jorge Ramos in 2020, Biden said “We took far too long to get it right. […] I think it was a big mistake. Took too long to get it right.” 

While this is vague, it does indicate that Biden felt some remorse about the separation of families and the deportation of children that he oversaw during Obama’s tenure. Additionally, his current immigration plan signals that he will “restore protection for people brought to the U.S. illegally as minors and stop using Pentagon funds to build a border wall.” He has reportedly unveiled a “detailed, highly ambitious plan on immigration, but it will take time to undo many actions taken by Trump.”

The hiring of Muñoz seems to fly in the face of this plan. Perhaps Biden is planning to use her expertise to dismantle the very systems that she herself built and that Trump added onto. This would make some degree of sense, but there are also plenty of immigration experts out there that could help achieve the same thing. What seems to make more sense is the thought that Biden is simply planning to dismantle Trump’s immigration policies, but use Muñoz to build new ones that are effectively the same, but not marketed as such. 

Either way, it appears that the appointment of Muñoz indicates Biden’s plan to build a different deportation program with the same motives as the previous ones. Muñoz has not done anything since leaving the Obama administration to indicate that her views on the separation of families has changed. If Joe Biden truly believes that the deportation of 3 million people was a mistake, he hasn’t done a great job showing it with this choice. 


“Cecilia Muñoz.” New America.

Fox, Ben and Elliot Spagat. “Some big, early shifts on immigration expected under Biden.” AP News, 2020.

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