Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, has resigned from Donald Trump’s National Diversity Council after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the repeal of the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) at a press conference on Tuesday.
Here is what you need to know about Palomarez and his resignation:
1. Palomarez Opposed Trump’s Immigration Policies, & Said He Would Be a “Liar” if He Repealed DACA
DACA is an immigration policy instituted by the Obama administration in 2012 that protects illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. before they were 16 from deportation. If their applications are approved, the policy grants immigrants a two-year renewable deportation deferral, allowing them to remain in the U.S. without fear of reprisal. As of March 2017, nearly 800,000 people had been approved since the program’s inception.
In June 2017, a group of 10 state attorneys general wrote an open letter to the Trump administration arguing for the repeal of DACA, threatening to sue the federal government if the president did not end DACA by September 5, 2017.
The same group of attorneys general, led by Texas A.G. Ken Paxton (R), successfully sued the government in 2014, blocking an Obama-era planned expansion of DACA that would have lengthened deferrals from two to three years. The win was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a split decision.
Trump’s consideration of the repeal, which is in tandem with the hard-line stance on immigration he took during his 2016 campaign, has elicited a wide range of disapproval, including a response letter from 20 different state attorneys general imploring Trump to keep DACA intact.
Palomarez followed this example, telling CNN that repealing DACA “would be a deplorable action” after multiple media outlets reported that Trump was expected to announce the repeal at a press conference on September 5. The Hispanic business indicated that he would step down if the repeal went through, and confirmed his resignation shortly after the announcement.
2. Palomarez Has Previously Disagreed With Trump’s Treatment of Minorities, & Was Also Expected to Resign in Mid-August
- Speculation that Palomarez might exit the council also arose in mid August after he criticized the president’s response to the violent alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and called for the resignation of Trump’s then-chief strategist Steve Bannon.
“The blame here ultimately resides with President Trump, but so too should the president’s chief strategist take responsibility for offering an attentive ear to racism and bigotry and his history of proudly cultivating the so-called ‘alt right'”, said Palomarez.
In response to the speculation that he might join other members of the Diversity Council that have resigned over the administration’s policies, Palomarez told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”: “If I walk away, if I give up in frustration, the only people who win are the Steve Bannons and Steve Millers of this world … They would love to have one less Hispanic with free access to the White House, to the president, to Ivanka Trump and several of the secretaries.”
Bannon was fired from his position as White House chief strategist mere days after Palomarez’ remarks.
3. Palomarez Joins a Growing List of Prominent Business Leaders Who Have Resigned From POTUS’ Advisory Panels Over the Administration’s Policies
Faced with mounting public pressure from consumers, many of Trump’s appointees to various advisory councils have tendered their resignations in response to the administration’s controversies. Following Trump’s failure to condemn the alt-right after Charlottesville, the following people announced their exits:
- Kenneth Frazier, Chairman and CEO of Merck Pharmaceuticals
- Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour
- Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel
- Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing
- Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO
- Thea Lee, deputy chief of staff for the AFL-CIO
- Inge Thulin, CEO of 3M
- Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup
- Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric
- Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson
- Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase
- Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock
Prior to Charlottesville, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla; Robert Iger, CEO of Disney; and Travis Kalanick, former CEO of Uber; also resigned from advisory panels following disagreements with the administration’s policies and conduct.
4. Palomarez Endorsed Hillary Clinton During the Presidential Election & Called Trump a “Buffoon”
“Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Trolls Donald Trump By Endorsing Hillary Clinton At GOP Convention,” read a Huffington Post headline after the USHCC announced its support for the Democratic presidential nominee during the 2016 Republican National Convention. The bipartisan group had previously declined to make endorsements during presidential elections, making its endorsement of Clinton the first in the organization’s history.
“We believe it is appropriate for us to weigh in and say enough is enough,” said Palomarez at the time of the endorsement, telling Reuters that Trump was “a buffoon.” “What we’re hearing from Donald Trump in his campaign: divisive, mean-spirited language [that] has marginalized Hispanics, immigrants, American POWs, Muslims, women, the disabled ― and the list goes on,” he added.
Trump had previously met with Palomarez while on the campaign trail, and the two sat down together after the USHCC spearheaded a boycott of the Trump brand over its positions on immigration. In October 2016, shortly following another meeting with the Hispanic business leader, Trump was scheduled to appear in Q&A session with the Chamber in which Palomarez was expected to grill him on immigration issues as he had other presidential candidates.
“[Palomarez] is having the meeting down in Washington. So, I will be going down at some point in October or whatever. I will go to Washington. That won’t be that easy a meeting because you’ll have hundreds of people and they will have constituents of his and they may disagree with me but ultimately we will all get along,” Trump had told Geraldo Rivera of the Q&A a month prior, but ultimately canceled the appearance the week before.
“Withdrawing from the Q&A can only suggest that Trump himself believes his views are indefensible before a Hispanic audience,” said a Chamber spokesperson in a formal statement.
5. Palomarez Garnered Criticism For Joining Trump’s Administration After Criticizing Him During The 2016 Campaign
Prior to Trump’s inauguration, it was announced that Palomarez would join Trump’s newly-formed National Diversity Council, an advisory board created, according to Trump attorney and advisor Michael Cohen, to “dispel the notion that Mr. Trump is one of the many things that the liberal mainstream media tried to label him as — that he is anti-Hispanic.”
“We’re going to do everything we can to help the new administration move this country forward,” Palomarez told BuzzFeed News after the announcement, which was met with considerable surprise from various media outlets.
“Que?!” read a headline from Latina magazine. The magazine also reported that Palomarez had been considered for a cabinet position but declined due to his responsibilities at the USHCC. An op-ed in The Hill called the move a “loss of [an] important Latino voice,” adding that it would be “a sad waste of Palomarez’s expertise, experience and abilities” and accusing the business leader of opportunism.
“In my conversations with [Cohen], they’ve made it clear to me they’re not in the business of breaking up families and deporting children,” said Palomarez. “Now does that make it into policy? I can’t say, man.”