WASHINGTON - President Obama today nominated Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez to be the next secretary of labor, calling him a "consensus-builder" who "reminds us of this country's promise."
Announcing his nomination in the East Room of the White House, Obama said Perez embodies the notion that "if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, what your last name is - you can make it if you try."
"Tom has made protecting that promise - for everybody - the cause of his life," he said.
Perez, the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, has been an assistant U.S. attorney general for the Civil Rights Division since 2009. Before that, he served as secretary of Maryland's Department of Labor.
"While he's tackled plenty of tough issues, Tom has also spent a career as a consensus-builder. He's worked with CEOs, he's worked with labor leaders. He's worked at federal, state, and local government levels. And throughout, he understands that our economy works best when the middle class and those working to get into the middle class have the security they need on the job, a democratic voice in the workplace, everybody playing by the same set of rules," Obama said.
If confirmed, Perez, who addressed the audience in English and Spanish, would lead the agency at a critical time, as the administration pushes for immigration reform and a higher minimum wage, among other initiatives.
"My parents taught my four siblings and me to work hard, to give back to our community, and to make sure that the ladder of opportunity was there for those coming after us," Perez said in brief remarks.
"Over my career, I've learned that true progress is possible if you keep an open mind, listen to all sides, and focus on results," he said. "I look forward to taking these lessons with me, if confirmed, to my new role as secretary of the Department of Labor."