By Jim Kuhnhenn and Sam Hananel
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is close to naming Thomas Perez, a civil rights official in the Justice Department, as his choice to head the Department of Labor, two people familiar with the process say.
His nomination could come as early as today, the people familiar with the process said Saturday.
If confirmed, Perez would replace Hilda Solis, who resigned in January.
Perez, 51, has led the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division since 2009 and previously served as Maryland’s labor secretary. He is expected to have solid support from organized labor as well as the Hispanic community, which is eager to have representation in Obama’s second-term Cabinet.
Solis was the first Hispanic woman to head an agency at the Cabinet level. Perez was the first Latino elected to the Montgomery County Council in Maryland, where he served from 2002 to 2006.
Perez would come to the Labor Department as Obama pushes a major immigration overhaul, which could include changes in how employers hire guest workers. Labor Department officials have also taken a prominent role in supporting Obama’s effort to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour.
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