LOS ANGELES – Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) issued the statement below in response to President Biden’s nomination of two sitting judges to federal courts of appeals, including the first Latina to serve on the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Judge Irma Carrillo Ramirez has served as a magistrate judge for the Northern District of Texas since 2002. If confirmed, she would be the first Latina judge to serve on the Fifth Circuit, which handles appellate matters from district courts in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Judge Ana de Alba has served as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California since 2022. And prior to that, she served as a judge on the California Superior Court in Fresno from 2018 to 2022. If confirmed, she would be the fourth Latina to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles appellate matters from federal courts in nine states, including Arizona, California, and Washington.

“Today’s historic nominations are a welcome initial step toward real and enduring change in the longstanding underrepresentation of the Latino community on courts of appeals.  In light of the current size and projected growth of the Latino population, we need more progress on seating Latino and Latina judges, especially given the fact that federal judges appointed now are likely to serve decades into the future.

“Based on their experience, the two jurists appointed today will be exemplary judges, with an understanding of the particular challenges still faced by much of the Latino community in these times.  Of course, nomination is just the first step, and MALDEF calls upon Senate leadership to move swiftly to confirm the two judges so that they can begin to contribute great value to our appellate judiciary.

“It has been reported that, with these two nominations, this administration has surpassed any other in the number of Latina appointments to the courts of appeals.  That three total Latina nominations passes this benchmark is an embarrassing indication of how far we have to go.  MALDEF urges the Biden Administration to see today’s achievement as just the beginning of a much bigger contribution toward Latino and Latina representation in the federal judiciary.  In particular, as one fifth of the national population, the Latino community should be represented on the Seventh Circuit, headquartered in Illinois, which has never had a Latino or Latina judge in its entire history; and on the Tenth Circuit, headquartered in Colorado, which currently has no active Latino or Latina judge because this Administration failed to appoint a Latino or Latina to succeed the only Latino judge on the circuit when he took senior status.”