The United States government consists of three different branches that sustain it: the judicial branch, the executive branch, and the legislative branch. When these branches became established back in the 18th century, the diversity of the members of these branches was very low. However, in the 21st century, the United States government opens its positions to different people of various ethnic backgrounds, including those of the Latinx community. These Latinx members contribute to their communities, help operate some of the complicated organizations of the U.S., create legislation, and determine the constitutionality of certain laws.
Here are just a few of the Latinx figures that work in the current U.S. government:
SONIA SOTOMAYOR - SUPREME COURT JUSTICE (JUDICIAL BRANCH)
Sotomayor became the first Latina woman to be nominated to the highest court in the nation, the Supreme Court. Being the daughter of two Puerto Rican parents, she grew up in the Bronx residence and studied diligently in high school. She later went to Princeton University where she participated as a student activist and pushed for Puerto Rican discrimination to stop. After she graduated from Princeton, she earned her JD from Yale University and served as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan. She worked her way to becoming a federal district judge of New York in 1991, a judge in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second District in 1997, and finally a justice on the Supreme Court in 2009. Some of her notable cases during her time as a Supreme Court Justice include Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (2014), where she expressed her disagreement with Michigan law to ban affirmative action in the education system and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), where she contributed to ruling that same-sex marriage is a right in the United States.
JULISSA REYNOSO PANTALEÓN - CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE FIRST LADY (EXECUTIVE BRANCH)
Reynoso currently serves as the Chief of Staff to the First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden. She immigrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States at the age of seven and went on to attend Harvard where she earned a degree in government and later earned her J.D. at Columbia University. Her involvement in political affairs extends back to moments such as the time she worked with the law firm Chadbourne & Parke LLP and acted as United States Ambassador to Uruguay.
CARLOS ELIZONDO - WHITE HOUSE SOCIAL SECRETARY (EXECUTIVE BRANCH)
Elizondo serves as the Social Secretary to Vice President Dr. Jill Biden. As Social Secretary, he manages various events that take place at the White House and the President’s workplace or residence. Hailing from Harlington, Texas, Elizondo also served as a Special Assistant of President Obama for all eight years in office. Graduating from Pontifical College Josephinum, he also represents the second openly gay person to hold the position of Social Secretary.
JULIE CHÁVEZ RODRIGUEZ - DIRECTOR OF THE WHITE OFFICE OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS (EXECUTIVE BRANCH)
Known as the granddaughter of American labor leader Cesar Chávez, Rodriguez had ties to the United Farm Workers of America, the labor union created to serve the needs of farmworkers. She acted as the Senior Deputy Director for the Office of Public Engagement under the Obama administration with her tasks revolving around immigration issues, veteran services, creating affordable health care, etc. After previously working with Kamala Harris on her presidential campaign, Rodriguez shifted to being the senior advisor for Latino outreach in Joe Biden’s presidential run.
ALEX PADILLA - UNITED STATES SENATOR (LEGISLATIVE BRANCH)
Padilla became the first Mexican American and Hispanic Senator from the state of California on January 20, 2021. Before his confirmation as a Democratic Senator, he served on the Los Angeles City Council as the youngest and first Latino council president, served in the California State Senate, and became California’s Secretary of State. He supports legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a path to citizenship and has shown support for policies like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. He also holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
MARCO RUBIO - UNITED STATES SENATOR (LEGISLATIVE BRANCH)
Born to parents who fled the country of Cuba, Marco Rubio has served as one of the Republican Senators from the state of Florida. He received his J.D. from the University of Florida Law and eventually served in the Florida House of Representatives in 2000 where he soon became the speaker. Rubio became elected Senator in 2011 and also tried to run for President of the United States in 2016. His political positions include granting citizenship to some undocumented immigrants and voting against an emergency declaration to build a border wall. Rubio has proven to be influential in how U.S. politics are handled in regard to Latin America.
MIKE GARCIA - UNITED STATES HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE (LEGISLATIVE BRANCH)
Garcia serves in the California’s 25th District in the House of Representatives as a first-generation American citizen. Coming from Mexican descent, Garcia entered the United States Navy and became a pilot serving in various missions in the Middle East. He later joined Raytheon, a weapons and industrial corporation, and also engaged in the real estate business. Garcia currently serves on the House Committee of Appropriations and House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
JIMMY GOMEZ - UNITED STATES HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE (LEGISLATIVE BRANCH)
Gomez represents California’s 34th District in the House of Representatives as the son of two Mexican immigrants. With a B.A. in political science from UCLA and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University, Gomez entered into politics and served four and a half years in the California State Assembly where he also represented the Chair of the Assembly of Appropriations Committee. Immigrant rights, fixing the flaws in the healthcare system, and protecting the environment are issues that he tackles in his current role as a representative. Gomez is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.