11 Things About Tom Perez, Obama's Latino Labor Secretary Pick

Barack Obama and Tom Perez (AFP/Getty Images)
Barack Obama and Tom Perez (AFP/Getty Images)

On Monday President Obama nominated Tom Perez, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, as labor secretary in his first second-term nomination of a Latino Cabinet member. If confirmed, Perez — whom the president calls a consensus builder whose story "reminds us of this country's promise" — will play a key role in the administration's efforts to raise the minimum wage and reform immigration laws. Here's what else we learned about Perez today:

* He's a Harvard-educated civil rights lawyer.

* He's the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic.

* He helped pay for his college education by working as a garbage collector and in a warehouse.


* He's the first attorney in his family.

* He made remarks at today's event in Spanish and English.

* He could face scrutiny from Republicans (Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama called Perez "the wrong man for this job" and criticized him for being too aggressive helping undocumented immigrants find work as part of an advocacy group called Casa de Maryland, Reuters reports).

* But Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, head of the Judiciary Committee, called Perez a "fierce defender of workers' rights" who is "uniquely suited" for the job and should be confirmed.

* He coaches basketball and baseball, and according to President Obama's remarks today, "He doesn't claim to be a great coach, but he brings passion to it."

* President Obama says Perez has "fought to open pathways into the workforce for everyone willing to contribute, including people with disabilities, LGBT Americans and immigrants" and "helped settle some of the largest cases ever on behalf of families targeted by unfair mortgage lending."

* As secretary of Maryland's Department of Labor, he helped implement the country's first statewide living-wage law.


* And he has the Rev. Al Sharpton's seal of approval: "Mr. Perez has proven himself to be a committed public servant who has done credible work around unemployment and employment discrimination among African Americans. He is a champion for issues impacting hardworking, middle-class families and blacks and Latinos," the civil rights leader and MSNBC host said in a release today.

Read more at the Washington Post and Reuters.