President Obama will most likely tap Thomas Perez to be the next Secretary of Labor. Perez is a Dominican-American who is the Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice's Civil Right’s Unit. He has had an extensive career in civil rights cases at local, state, and federal levels. Perez may become a controversial candidate and fail to gain approval from Senate Republicans. If approved, he will become the only Latino to serve in Obama’s second term cabinet.
Perez is a Harvard Law graduate who has spent the majority of his career in public service. Perez became a law professor at University of Maryland and then ran for the Montgomery County council. When elected, he made history by becoming the second minority ever to serve on the council and later became the council’s first Latino president. Following the council Perez was appointed as Labor secretary for the state of Maryland, and held that post from 2007 to 2009, when he was appointed to the Justice department in Washington.
Obama has made immigration reform one of the many focal points of his second term agenda. Perez’s role as Labor secretary will certainly benefit the president in that Perez has addressed high profile cases on immigration policies. During his time spent in the Civil Rights Division, Perez became involved in fighting controversial voter ID laws in both South Carolina and Texas. The civil rights department launched a high profile lawsuit against Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2012, accusing him and his department of discriminating against the Hispanic community.
Perez’s involvement and association with such civil rights cases will be difficult to win over Senate Republicans. Based on conservatives’ aversion to labor unions, Perez’s advocacy for such organizations may be detrimental to his nomination as well. While a formal announcement on the nomination has yet to come out of the White House, Perez will be a highly likely candidate. If approved, Perez will give President Obama leverage to push immigration initiatives in Congress.