Obama nominates Dominican Thomas Perez to lead Labor Department

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    Thomas Perez Labor Department

    Thomas Perez, nominated to head the Labor Department. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

    President Barack Obama nominated Thomas Perez to be the next secretary for the Department of Labor on Monday.

    During his nomination, Perez opened and closed his remarks thanking Obama in Spanish for the nomination and vowing to work diligently if confirmed as labor secretary.

    “Tom is a dedicated public servant who has spent his career fighting to keep the American dream within reach for hardworking middle class families and those striving to get into the middle class,” a White House official said, previewing Obama’s announcement.

    Prior to his nomination, Perez was head of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department. He held that post since October 2009.

    Under his leadership, the Civil Rights Division has settled the three largest fair lending cases ever on behalf of families targeted by unfair mortgage lending practices, a White House official said.

    Perez, son of Dominican immigrants, is slated to replace Hilda Solis, who stepped down in January after a four-year tenure.

    Opposition on the Hill is likely for Thomas Perez

    As a nominee, Thomas Perez is likely to face strong opposition from some in the Republican Party, warned Angelo Falcon president and co-founder of the National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP).

    His strongest liability comes from a Justice Department inspector general’s report that found the voting rights section had been torn by “deep ideological polarization.” The factions date back to the George W. Bush administration, and most occurred before Perez was confirmed in October 2009, The New York Times reported.

    Despite the accusations, Falcon told VOXXI that Perez is more than likely to survive the rounds of Republican objections during his confirmation process.

    “He has been vetted before and has shown a strong track record,” Falcon said.

    Much like what happened to Susan Rice and Thomas Saenz—both of whom were scrapped from consideration for posts within the Obama administration following strong Republican opposition—the labor secretary nominee also faces opposition for his role at the Justice Department and being “too pro-union,” Falcon said.

    U.S. ambassador for the United Nations, Rice withdrew her name from consideration to be Secretary of State following criticism of her handling of the Benghazi attacks last September.

    Saenz, who heads the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund was considered for a position within the Justice Department, Falcon said.

    “Republicans are going to come up with all sorts of reasons why he shouldn’t be appointed. He has gone through the vetting process before and nothing I see in his record is negative,” Falcon said.

    Not Thomas Perez’s first time at this rodeo

    Thomas Perez previously served as the secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR). From 2002 until 2006, he was a member of the Montgomery County Council. He was the first Latino ever elected to the council and served as council president in 2005, a press release by NiLP said.

    Falcon added that Perez has been crucial in pushing for the voting rights and has been a constant ally for Hispanics and the underserved.

    As talks about a possible immigration reform continue to circulate, Falcon added that having Perez in Obama’s cabinet would help move legislation efforts forward.

    “He would be a strong advocate in moving reform forward and helping the Latino community,” Falcon said. “He has been very proactive. He’s really been very creative, very much someone who you want in government watching your back,” he added.

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