Tom Perez could play a pivotal role in the President Barack Obama efforts to raise the minimum wage and reform the country’s immigration laws.
The 51-year-old Dominican-American politician, consumer advocate and civil right lawyer has been nominated by Obama to be the United States Secretary of Labor, replacing outgoing secretary Hilda Solis.
Perez, who has been serving as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice since October 2009, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is the only Latino nominated to Obama’s second-term Cabinet so far.
Perez, who received a B.A. in international relations and political science from Brown University and a J.D. cum laude from Harvard University, is expected to face opposition from some Republican senators, who say he has been too aggressive on certain immigration issues, and too political.
Perez has strong labor support and served as labor secretary for Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, from 2007 until 2009, when he was picked for his current Justice Department position. Perez also served on the Montgomery County Council in Maryland and was the first Latino elected to the council. He has been the key official under Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. handling civil rights cases.