As a former 2008 presidential Democratic contender Richardson advocated liberal immigration policies, although he has refused to use the word "amnesty" to describe his support for allowing illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
During the announcement Richardson, a Latino, spoke for a portion of it in Spanish to thank Obama for the appointment.
As Commerce Secretary Richardson will oversee business issues, including those dealing with immigration. Richardson supported 2005 immigration legislation authored by John McCain and Ted Kennedy that required illegal aliens to pay a fee and learn English in order to become a citizen.
“If they meet all these requirements, we should say ‘Welcome to the United States. You’re now a legal worker,” he said at a 2006 Georgetown University lecture. “With instantaneous worker verification in place, we’ll be able to do it.”
Richardson has other views on immigration conservatives will dislike. He does not believe the Southern border should be secured by a fence. He'd rather see more cameras installed along the border and an increased number of Border Agents to detain dangerous illegal aliens by hand.