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Published: Monday, 4/15/2013

Confirm Perez

Who is Thomas Perez, and why are they saying those terrible things about him? Mr. Perez is President Obama’s nominee to head the Labor Department. That’s not a position most of us spend a lot of time thinking about.

But Mr. Perez is extremely well qualified. He’s a former civil rights attorney, a former staffer for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, and a former secretary of labor in Maryland. He now heads the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he has investigated vote suppression and Trayvon Martin’s death.

Many presidents have planted cronies or rewarded hacks at the Labor Department. But in Mr. Perez, Mr. Obama appears to have picked a stellar nominee.

Yet the day his appointment was announced, a Republican senator put a hold on his nomination. The Wall Street Journal editorial page and other critics went after him, dubiously accusing him of intervening improperly in a housing-discrimination case.

Mr. Perez is perhaps a little to the left of the President and most Democratic senators, but that’s not so crazy for this job. And he’s hardly a radical for believing in civil rights, especially for poor people and people of color.

The sleaziest slander against Mr. Perez is that he is soft on immigration law and doesn’t want to enforce it. There is no evidence for this; the Department of Justice has deported more people under President Obama than it did under George W. Bush.

There seems to be no basis for this charge other than the fact that Mr. Perez is Latino. So we have obstruction for its own sake plus the use of code words. Is this how the Republican Party reaches out to Hispanics?

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