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Hispanic Caucus Backs Labor Secretary Who Pushed Some of Holder’s Most Controversial Policies to Be Next Attorney General


"... proven record of championing and defending the rights of all Americans.”

Thomas 'Tom' Perez, U.S. secretary of labor, speaks during an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has 'got his head in the sand' when it comes to the plight of minimum-wage earners in his state, Perez said. Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus wants President Barack Obama to nominate Labor Secretary Tom Perez as the next attorney general.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, speaks during an interview in, Oct. 23, 2014. (Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Perez's previous tenure at the Justice Department as head of the civil rights division was filled with controversy challenging voter ID laws and opposing restrictions on illegal immigration.

Politico first reported that the 27-member caucus was formally endorsing Perez to replace Eric Holder, who has said he would remain in the post until Obama has nominated and the Senate confirms a replacement. Obama has said he won't nominate a replacement until after the midterm elections.

“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus proudly endorses Secretary Tom Perez to serve as the next attorney general of the United States,” said Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), the caucus chairman. “Secretary Perez has a proven record of championing and defending the rights of all Americans.”

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), who heads the caucus’s diversity task force, said Perez is committed to justice.

“Secretary Perez’s significant record of accomplishment throughout his career and during his time as assistant attorney general reflects the values he would bring to the Department of Justice and instills the utmost confidence in his ability to serve as attorney general,” Lujan said.

Other potential candidates have been former White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler and Solicitor General Don Verrilli. Ruemmler recently took herself out of the running.

Perez became head of the Justice Department's civil rights division in October 2009 and took the lead on several of the most controversial actions in the Holder Justice Department. Perez took the position of labor secretary in September 2013.

Under Perez, the division sued to block voter ID laws in both South Carolina and Texas and also took action to stop Florida from its efforts to purge dead and ineligible voters from the voter rolls.

Perez began an investigation into Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known nationally for his strict immigration enforcement policies.

The next year, the division sued the state of Arizona over SB 1070, the law that allowed local police to ask for identification if they suspected someone was not in the country legally. The key provision of that law as upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, though other provisions were not.

In 2010, two Justice Department officials – J. Christian Adams and Christopher Coates – said Perez played a key role in dismissing the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party whose members were caught on video intimidating voters in Philadelphia during the 2008 election.

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