STATE — It’s being reported that Ken Salazar is going to be named by President Joe Biden as the new U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
According to a story posted online Friday, May 28, by Colorado Politics, the Mexico City daily newspaper La Jornada reported earlier this week that Biden’s appointment of Salazar is “imminent,” bringing to an end weeks of speculation about who would fill the role that is crucial to United States-Mexico relations.
A fifth-generation native of the San Luis Valley whose family’s presence in the southwest can be traced back more than 300 years, Salazar has a long and distinguished career in public service. He first stepped into politics in 1986 when he was recruited to serve as legal counsel to former Governor Roy Romer. Four years later, he was promoted to Director of the Department of Natural Resources. In 1999, Salazar was elected to serve as Colorado’s Attorney General, a position he held until 2004 when he was elected to represent Colorado in the United States Senate. Salazar resigned from his seat in the Senate when former President Barak Obama appointed him to be Secretary of the Interior. Salazar’s nomination was confirmed by a unanimous vote in the Senate. After leaving that position at the end of Obama’s first term, Salazar became a partner in the Denver law firm Wilmerhale, where the practice focused on energy, environment, natural resources, corporate governance and Native American matters.
Salazar would be replacing Christopher Landau who vacated the Ambassador position in January. He will step into a challenging relationship with Mexico over the current surge in immigrants at the US southern border. However, prior to Biden taking office, relations were already strained between the US and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's administration due to former President Donald Trump’s disparaging description of Mexican immigrants and repeated claims that the border wall he was building would be paid for by Mexico, a claim that López Obrador refuted repeatedly.
Against that backdrop, Salazar will bring a background of experience to the position, including his history in the Senate where he helped lead a bipartisan group of senators on comprehensive immigration reform, leading to him being described in the past as an advocate for both strong border security and creating a path to citizenship. In his position as Secretary of the Interior, Salazar also resolved a bilateral conservation agreement with both Canada and Mexico that, in the latter, dealt with a 150-mile strip of land that covered parts of the US southern border.
The Biden administration has not made a formal announcement about Salazar’s appointment, due to, according to Colorado Politics citing the New York Times, the administration’s plan to “unveil a diverse slate of nominees” at one time.
Salazar received a JD degree from the University of Michigan and a political science degree from Colorado College. He later received honorary Doctorates of Law from Colorado College, the University of Denver and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. He was recognized with induction into the Order of the Coif from the University of Colorado School of Law and received the University of Michigan Distinguished Alumni Award.
According to his background and profile posted on the Wilmerhale website, Salazar currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Target Corporation and on the Board of Trustees of the Mayo Clinic.
Other names rumored to be in consideration for the ambassador’s post included Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration, and Bill Richardson, former two-term governor of New Mexico who, after leaving office, was called upon to negotiate with North Korea on several occasions, including in the release of American citizen, Otto Wambeier, was imprisoned in North Korea in 2016 on a charge of subversion.
In 2020, Salazar was co-chairman of Biden’s Latino Leadership Committee and, during Biden’s presidential campaign, co-chaired the Colorado Latino Leadership Council.
As of Friday, Salazar could not be reached for comment.