Werner Oyanadel was at his office in Connecticut when a fresh President Barack Obama made a historic move for Latinos: he nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
Oyanadel, 45, who works for the state’s assembly, remembers the May 26, 2009 nomination as a moment of joy that united much of the community during an otherwise bleak time.
“It was a celebration and in many ways it felt good in that everything that was happening near us was depressive — the economy was doing bad, the outlook for quality of life for Latinos was not positive,” said Oyanadel. “Later on, I was personally happy to realize this was just the beginning.”
Supporters of Obama tout substantial gains for Hispanics under his watch: The return of Latinos to work after a recession that hit them harder than white workers, as well as a drop in Hispanic poverty rates. About 4 million more Latinos obtained health insurance and the administration waged court battles for the preservation of voting rights. Obama used his presidential power so thousands of young Latino immigrants could remain in the U.S. without fear of deportation and have the chance to work. And from his office, he forged a new relationship with Cuba.
To Oyandel’s delight, Sotomayor’s nomination was followed by a total of six Latinos in Cabinet secretary jobs over eight years as well the hiring of other Hispanics in key administration and White House jobs. Obama made Cecilia Muñoz, a daughter of Bolivian immigrants, one of his top advisers on…….
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