Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, today expressed profound disappointment today that distinguished civil rights attorney Thomas Saenz is no longer a candidate to head the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
(Also see EJS’s statement here.)
“Thomas Saenz was a great choice to oversee a department tasked with enforcing federal statutes to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, disability, religion, and national origin. He follows the law meticulously and is one of the best litigators our country has. He has dedicated his entire career to the fight for justice, equal opportunity, and dignity for those who have no voice,” said Murguía.
“We are concerned that his name may have been pulled from consideration over his ‘position on immigration’ and the signal that it sends to young lawyers weighing careers in upholding the nation’s civil rights laws. Mr. Saenz has successfully litigated cases based on the merits of immigration law and has done so with integrity and professionalism. Where he stands on an issue is not as significant as his understanding of the law and his ability to argue the facts.”
“I am confident that at his confirmation hearing Mr. Saenz would have been able to address any questions related to his litigation work on immigration based on the facts of the cases he argued and the law. Unfortunately he will not be given that opportunity,” continued Murguía.
“This action may lead some to question whether the White House is ready to fulfill its promise on immigration reform. Along with the nomination of Tom Perez as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, the Latino community will be looking for further reassurance that this is not the case. Nonetheless, the administration missed an opportunity to bring the debate back to the merits of the law, rather than succumb to the shrill voices of fear,” concluded Murguía.