Earlier this week, Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, withdrew himself from his nomination for the Secretary of Labor Cabinet position. Puzder was under fire for many reasons, including his hiring of an undocumented maid as well as his troubling history of domestic abuse. Puzder also has been an advocate for immigration reform, a position that is at odds with the Trump administration’s current policies. The Nation speculated this was the likely reason for his withdrawal.
With Puzder out, President Trump has announced his next nominee for Secretary of Labor: Republican Alexander Acosta.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 16, 2017
According to the Miami Herald, Acosta is the son of Cuban-American immigrants who currently serves as the dean of Florida International University’s law school. After the announcement, fellow Floridian Marco Rubio released a statement calling the nomination of fellow conservative Acosta a “phenomenal choice.”
In a statement released by the White House, President Trump said he was “tremendously impressed” with Mr. Acosta’s career.
R. Alexander Acosta, Law School Dean, Is Trump’s New Pick for Labor https://t.co/6sH9o3nLuE
— Seattle's Banker (@SeattlesBanker) February 17, 2017
The New York Times reports that 48-year-old Acosta, who earned his law degree from Harvard University, served on the National Labor Relations Board under President Bush from 2002 to 2003. He followed that up by serving as a civil rights attorney for the Justice Department under President Bush in 2004.
The Miami Herald reports that Acosta served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Florida, and also served as the first ever Latino assistant to the U.S. attorney general. According to his resume, in 2014 Acosta was listed as one of the “nation’s 50 most influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business Magazine.”
Acosta brings along a track record of defending civil rights for ethnic and religious minorities.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 16, 2017
In 2011, The Guardian reports, Acosta publicly defended Muslim immigrants, saying that the U.S. is a “nation built on principles of freedom, and high on the list of freedoms is freedom of religious expression.” In 2004, Acosta fought on behalf of Latino residents who had been discriminated against in the Borough of Bound Brook, a clear violation of the Fair Housing Act.
Acosta released a statement saying, “We cannot tolerate a municipality purposefully discriminating against and segregating minorities in housing. Individuals should have the liberty to make their own housing decisions, regardless of their race. We will continue to aggressively prosecute incidents of housing discrimination.”
However, Acosta has also challenged the rights of minority voters, as The Nation pointed out in a recent article.
In 2004, Acosta used his position as the civil rights chief for the Justice Department department to weigh in on a controversial voting rights issue. According to McClatchy, Acosta wrote a letter to a federal Ohio judge which took a favorable stance on “vote-caging,” a practice that largely targets minority voters through shady proof-of-residence tactics. Acosta used his political leverage to put the voting rights of 23,000 African-Americans in jeopardy as a result of his letter.
Mr. Acosta is the first Latino nominee President Trump has made for his cabinet.
The President has chosen Alexander Acosta as his Labor Sec pick. The left will now educate you on how he's not a real Hispanic.
— Sean Spicier (@sean_spicier) February 16, 2017
When Trump made what appeared to be his final nomination a few weeks ago, many were concerned by his lack of Latino representation in the Cabinet. With the announcement of Cuban-American Acosta for Labor Secretary, President Trump may have his first Latino cabinet member.
At Trump’s latest news conference, the president took the opportunity to praise Acosta.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 16, 2017
In an official statement released by the White House, Trump elaborated on his pick, saying:
Throughout his career, Alex Acosta has been a passionate advocate for equal opportunity for all Americans. His extensive experience has tremendously impressed me and my team and makes us confident that he will lead the Department of Labor with the utmost competence and determination to support the American worker.”