President Obama announced earlier today that assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez would be nominated the new secretary of labor. 51-year old Perez would succeed Hilda L. Solis and be the only Latino in Obama’s second-term Cabinet. Perez is a Harvard-educated lawyer, first-generation Dominican American and the first lawyer in his family. As Labor secretary, Perez would play a key role in helping the President with immigration policy.
Already Perez has been criticized by Republicans, “This is an unfortunate and needlessly divisive nomination,” said Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama. “The top priority of the secretary of labor should be to create jobs and higher wages for American workers. But Mr. Perez has aggressively sought ways to allow the hiring of more illegal workers. Mr. Perez has also had a controversial tenure at the Department of Justice, where he has demonstrated a fundamentally political approach to the law.”
Perez spoke twice in Spanish before repeating the phrases in English. “It’s a remarkably humbling and exciting phenomenon to be here today,” he said. “My parents taught us to work hard and make sure the ladder of opportunity is there for those who came after us.” “We can keep making progress for all working families.” “Our nation still faces critical economic challenges, and the department’s mission is as important as ever,” Perez said.