WASHINGTON — Despite being heartbroken over the Supreme Court’s split decision on President Obama’s executive action on illegal immigration, Labor Secretary Tom Perez urged Hispanics to “cause good trouble” to get comprehensive immigration reform passed.
Perez also called on the Republican-led Senate to make time for a hearing on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and attacked Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Perez said the Supreme Court’s 4-4 decision on the Obama administration’s deferred action program underscores the need for congressional action on immigration.
“Frankly the ruling on the case is certainly disappointing, to say the minimum. It frankly breaks my heart because I remember where I was when the president announced it. I was in Maryland at a remarkable nonprofit I used to be the board chair of and I remember vividly the looks of hope and potential on the faces of so many immigrants who have been here working so hard,” he said at the annual conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).
“When I see what I saw today it certainly, undeniably, breaks my heart, but it will never break my spirits nor should it ever break your spirits. And it only strengths my resolve to fight for fairness and it only strengthens our resolve to fight for comprehensive immigration reform — that is a ‘when’ question in this country. It is not an ‘if’ question in this country,” he added.
Later in his speech, Perez said, “We may have fallen down today on DAPA but that fall is brief because we will get up, we will get up stronger.”
“Don’t ever get down. Get up. Do what [Georgia Rep.] John Lewis told you — what John Lewis does every day, day in and day out, cause good trouble — that is what we have to do — that is the secret to our success as a nation,” he said. “You are the gyroscope. Let’s together marshal the collective power to build an America that works for everyone — a land of opportunity, a land in which we say we do not make our candle brighter by blowing out our neighbor’s candle. We make our candle brighter by ensuring every candle across every ZIP code is lit — that is who we are as nation and who we will always be as a nation.”
Perez thanked NALEO for helping 4.2 million people become U.S. citizens between 2009-2014.
“That is because of your efforts. Community leaders like you, you’re helping people get across the finish line. We still have 8.5 million people who are eligible to naturalize but haven’t,” he said. “We have to remember that. Your work in making sure that people who are eligible to vote vote is so critically important.”
Perez also criticized states that require photo identification to vote.
“All too many — states in this country believe voter ID is the key to making it harder for black and brown people to vote. Let’s call voter ID laws what they are — they are a scourge on our nation,” he said.
The former assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice told the audience that “racial profiling” does not protect U.S. communities.
“I still continue to watch as Joe Arpaio gets held in contempt by courts in Arizona and I saw firsthand that some sheriffs out there think racial profiling makes communities safer. It does not make communities safer. Thank you for standing up to rogue sheriffs like Joe Arpaio who do nothing for public safety and everything for public division,” he said.