Tom Perez now heads DOJ Civil Rights Division (not Thomas Saenz)
[SEE THE UPDATE]
Barack Obama has selected Thomas Perez to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. His full bio as provided by the White House is below . Oddly enough, they fail to note his close ties to Casa de Maryland, a far-left group that strongly supports illegal immigration.
Note that at the end of last month, the word on the street was that he was going to head up the USCIS and that Thomas Saenz - formerly of MALDEF - was going to get the position Perez got. Saenz was apparently selected but then de-selected, perhaps over worries that MALDEF was too extreme or that his strong support for illegal immigration would work against him. So, they selected someone linked to Casa of Maryland instead...
We caught up with Thomas Saenz. "My legal career has been devoted to protecting the people's civil and constitutional rights," Saenz said. "Given my background, I believe there is nothing more important than the pivotal role of the Justice Department in civil rights enforcement." Saenz said he was "very much interested" in working at the federal level, but he wished Holder and Perez success. He declined to discuss reports that he had been offered the AAG position.
UPDATE: Ed Whelan says:
I’ve been reliably informed that President Obama’s decision to abandon his commitment to nominate former MALDEF attorney Thomas Saenz to head the Civil Rights Division at DOJ and to instead nominate Maryland labor secretary Thomas Perez had nothing to do with Saenz’s record on immigration issues. What happened instead was that the leaders of the inside-the-Beltway civil rights establishment were livid that the White House had failed to consult them and had selected in Saenz someone they didn’t know and trust. So they pressured the White House, and the White House caved. Perez is well known to civil rights folks in D.C., as he served in the Clinton administration as a deputy in the Civil Rights Division and as director of HHS’s office of civil rights and also worked as a Senate staffer for Teddy Kennedy.
 From whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/
President-Obama-Announces-More-Key-Administration-Posts-3-13-09 here's Perez' bio:
Tom Perez is a nationally recognized civil rights lawyer and consumer advocate who currently serves as the Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR). Under Perez’s leadership, DLLR protects and empowers working Americans. The Department enforces workplace safety laws that provide critical safeguards to workers and communities; enforces wage and hour, and other worker protection laws that ensure wage security; protects consumers through the enforcement of a wide range of consumer rights laws, including the mortgage setting; and collaborates with businesses and workers to address critical workforce development needs and build a world-class workforce. Perez has extensive experience in foreclosure prevention and was a principal architect of a sweeping package of state reforms to address the foreclosure crisis in Maryland. A graduate of Brown University, Harvard Law School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Perez has spent his entire career in public service. From 2002 until 2006, Perez was a member of the Montgomery County Council. He was the first Latino ever elected to the Council, and served as Council President in 2005. Earlier in his career, Perez spent 12 years in federal public service. As a federal prosecutor for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, he prosecuted and supervised the prosecution of some of the Department’s most high profile civil rights cases, including a hate crimes case in Texas involving a group of white supremacists who went on a deadly, racially motivated crime spree. Perez later served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under Attorney General Janet Reno. Among other responsibilities, Secretary Perez chaired the interagency Worker Exploitation Task Force, which oversaw a variety of initiatives designed to protect vulnerable workers. Perez previously served as Special Counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy, and was Senator Kennedy’s principal adviser on civil rights, criminal justice and constitutional issues. For the final two years of the Clinton administration, Perez served as the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Perez was a law professor for six years at University of Maryland School of Law and is a part-time professor at the George Washington School of Public Health.