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Monday
Mar112013

Obama to Nominate Thomas Perez as Labor Secretary: Reports

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama is expected to tap Thomas Perez, the head of the Department of Justice's civil rights division, to serve as his next labor secretary. The appointment would make Perez the only Latino in the president's second-term cabinet.

Multiple media reports have indicated that Perez is Obama's likely pick to become the next head of the Department of Labor. Perez, 51, previously served as Maryland's labor secretary between 2007 and 2009 before joining the U.S. Justice Department. The White House declined to comment on these reports.

If selected and confirmed by the Senate, Perez would replace former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who resigned from the administration in January. Another Latino cabinet official, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, is expected to leave his position by the end of this month. Ernest Moniz, Obama's nominee for energy secretary, is the grandson of Portugese immigrants from the Azores islands.

The news of Perez's impending appointment comes after Latino groups pressured the administration to appoint Latinos to fill vacant cabinet roles.

If he is selected as labor secretary, Perez would have many issues on his plate. Congress is considering a sweeping immigration overhaul and one of the key sticking points has been how to bring in more high-skilled and low-skilled immigrant workers into the United States. Perez has the support of organized labor groups, who have balked at a traditional guest-worker program for lower-skilled immigrants.

The president has also proposed raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 per hour.

While Perez could be the only Latino in Obama's second-term cabinet, the president has selected other Latinos to fill key administration positions.

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