3.24.2009

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez - A Brilliant Choice!

Thomas E. Perez, 47, has been appointed Assistant Attorney General by President Barack Obama. Maryland's Secretary of Labor, Perez is noted as an expert on minority voting rights and hate crimes.

In addition to his sterling academic credentials (Harvard, Brown, Kennedy School of Government), Perez was a professor at the Maryland University School of Law, a federal prosecutor for the DOJ's Civil Rights Division and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Perez is credited with taking on some of the toughest civil rights cases, including a hate crimes case in Texas involving a group of white supremacists who went on a deadly, racially motivated crime spree.

However, the appointment is not without controversy. NCLR and Southwestern Mexican American groups are unhappy that their favorite, former MALDEF legal expert and LA Mayor Villaraigosa advisor, Thomas Saenz, didn't get the coveted assignment. Janet Murguia fears that the choice of Perez over Saenz raises questions about Obama's commitment to immigration reform.

But Perez is the son of Dominican immigrants who fled the Trujillo dictatorship in the 1960's for the short summers of Buffalo, New York. He's also served on the board of the National Immigration Foundation and the Baltimore-based CASA Maryland, a pro-immigrant service organization.

In short, the selection of Perez is a brilliant move by Obama. Perez' credentials are unimpeachable -- making it difficult for the wingnuts to oppose him, while bringing to the administration a fresh perspective on civil rights from an advocate of Latino and immigrant heritage.

Links:
Thomas Perez - wiki
Md. labor secretary's selection for Justice post riles some
Maryland official tapped for U.S. civil rights post
Uphold voting rights
LULAC Applauds President Barack Obama’s Nomination of Tom Perez For The Department Of Justice Civil Rights Division