While there still is no Latino named to President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet, his Hispanic Advisory Council has put together a Latino-themed Inaugural bash to be held on the eve of Trump's swearing in.
The Latino Inaugural Gala 2017 has been organized by the council, the Hispanic 100 Policy Committee Inc., an Irvine, Calif. group operated by Trump surrogate Mario Rodriguez that promotes free enterprise in the Hispanic community, and the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, a partner.
Tickets to the Jan. 19 event to be held at the Mandarin Oriental in southwest Washington, D.C. are $200 and the Eventbrite invitation states that about 600 are expected to attend.
A news release issued late last month stated that Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, is serving as the honorary chair. Cecilia Abbott, wife of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, is on the gala's itinerary as honored guest.
"Many Latinos are supporting the fact that we are going to have Donald Trump as president, respecting that, whether they supported him or not ... they want to move forward with his presidency," said Juan Pablo Andrade, a member of the advisory council who served as a surrogate during Trump's campaign.
Presidential inaugural committees raise money and pay for select inaugural balls that are considered "official" galas. But several "unofficial" balls also are held by groups and with funding from various corporations and entities.
The Latino gala sponsors include AT&T, Hoyos Group and Green Hills Software, according to an invitation.
A Latino gala held at President Barack Obama's 2008 inauguration was organized by the National Council of La Raza and included a parade of top celebrities including JLo and Mark Anthony, Lila Downs, George Lopez, Wilmer Valderrama, Tony Plana, Rosie Perez and a national anthem sung by American Idol runner up David Archuleta.
The majority of Latinos who went to the polls voted for Hillary Clinton. Trump has had an antagonistic relationship with the Latino community after launching his campaign by declaring Mexico was sending rapists, criminals and people bringing drugs to the U.S. and similar such people were coming from Latin America.
His transition team has been under pressure to add a Latino to the Cabinet and former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado is under consideration for Agriculture secretary. But even if Maldonado is nominated, the number of Latinos in the Cabinet will be fewer than Obama's Cabinet. There currently are three Latinos, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Housing Secretary Julián Castro and Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet and Education Secretary John King in the Cabinet. In his first term, Ken Salazar served as secretary of the Interior Department and Hilda Solis was secretary of Labor.
Latinos are 17 percent of the U.S. population.
The paucity of Latinos in the Cabinet contrasts with Latinos making history in the Congress. The first Latina has joined the Senate, Catherine Cortez Masto and the first Dominican American, Adriano Espaillat is a member of the U.S. House this year. There was a net gain of five seats by Latinos in Congress for a historic 38 Latino members.
"It feels like we are moving in two different directions at the same time," Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-Texas, said this week outside the House chamber. "There's a lot of progress after the election in terms of the increase in the number of Latinos serving in the United States Congress, but at the same time the president-elect has promised very draconian policies that would hurt the Latino community and so far the Cabinet is not one that's reflective of the face of America."
Andrade said the transition team wants to "find the most qualified people" for the Cabinet. He said the team is looking at Republicans and Democrats.
"The reality is there's not too many (Republican) Hispanics and Latinos tend to lean more toward the Democratic side," he said.
Some Republicans have said Latinos will have opportunities at sub-Cabinet secretary level administration jobs.
Earlier this week, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas where 38 percent of the population is Latino, said it's important to have a "representative administration."
"But I think the Senate confirms about 1,200 nominees, so there's a whole lot of opportunities to nominate people in important positions," he said.