Community & Criticisms : Looking for the Answers in the Cecilia Muñoz Controversy

By Guest Contributor Maegan La Mala, cross-posted from Vivir Latino

It’s a long way from April, when hardly anyone paid much mind to my critique of the role Cecilia Muñoz, the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, was playing in her defense of the indefensible, the increase in detentions and deportations, and the growing criminalization of communities these increases requires.

Now, there are petitions, open letters, appearances, articles, and attacks. I knew that taking a position that directly challenged Muñoz as the Latina spokesperson for an administration that has actually done worse to our communities would be controversial and would also demand that community organizations who claim legitimacy in their role as community representatives be held accountable. I did/do this, not because it is in my mission statement, nor because I am beholden to any entity beyond the vecinos I stood doing laundry with on Sunday mornings, whom week after week watched Muñoz lie to them on behalf of an administration that promised change. The words in the American Prospect article are completely my own and I stand by them.

It is easy for organizations, their leadership, and the public relations departments housed within them, to attack an individual writer, calling them ill-informed and accusing them (me) of doing a disservice to the community. What has proven more difficult is answering the questions that remain. This is not about what services a specific organization provides nor about if they have condemned an immigration policy that deports an average of 400,000 people a year, leaving thousands of children in foster care. What it is about is answering precisely how does supporting Cecilia Muñoz serve the community? Claims about her attempting to change immigration policy fall flat in the face of reports that show that prosecutorial discretion is not being exercised, bolstering accusations that the Morton Memo and alleged reviews of deportation cases are nothing more than public relation tools.

As more data and documents are released and ICE fights tooth and nail to hide a paper trail that more than likely contains proof of the intentions behind their detention and deportation policies and practices, it falls on organizations claiming to represent community to show why shielding spokespeople for an administration that has failed in fulfilling it’s promises is beneficial.

Everything else, just like in the Obama administration is just PR.

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  • Slmendes

    Cecilia Muñoz wields very little power. Firing her would have absolutely no impact whatsoever in how immigration is being handled today by the Obama administration. She does not have the ability to set policy. She does not work for the DHS or ICE. If she were to leave her job, she would just be replaced by another person who would continue to do the same job she is doing now. As one of the few Latinas in relatively high-profile position in this administration, she might get a lot of attention in Spanish-language media, but she is not the architect of Obama’s immigration policies and plays almost very little role implementing these policies. I find it quite curious that there exists this targeted attack on this individual woman when the real problem lies elsewhere, in legislation being passed across the nation that hinders the well-being of immigrant communities and in inhumane deportation policies that break apart families and remove willing workers from the country at great cost to the state. Firing her would do nothing. I think you’re just barking up the wrong tree, here. You’re missing the big picture.

  • KTW

    I like this piece, and I don’t think that you’re ill-informed/misguided.  And even though this essay is specifically targeted at Munoz, I think that many of the problems espoused in it go beyond her and the Obama administration.  I think that Obama genuinely wants to make government work for the people (even the people who hold beliefs that are anathema to anything that Racialicious would support). Keep pressing on, and continue to bring the truth to others.