After his initial choice for U.S. secretary of labor, Andrew Puzder, crashed and burned, President Trump on Thursday came up with an unexpected — and most welcome —replacement: former Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta.
Trump got this nomination right.
It’s a sharp, outside-of-the-box choice, one that throws another spotlight on Miami and its substantial homegrown talent.
A Miami native and the son of Cuba immigrants, Acosta, 48, is the dean of Florida International University’s law school. His confirmation would fix Trump’s Hispanic problem — or his lack-of-a-Hispanic-problem — by making him the first in the Trump cabinet.
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And what an honor for FIU to have a faculty member so nominated — a first for the school.
We can’t help but think that the Miami contingent at the White House, and Trump’s cultivated friendships with Republican Cuban exiles in Miami who, despite being outvoted, supported him, led the president to this choice of Acosta.
Here’s the big news for us: Having a labor secretary who knows Miami-Dade can only benefit us. There is no two ways about it. The Cabinet member charged with creating and returning jobs to America — the hallmark of Trump’s presidency — grew up in Miami, worked in Miami and was a boss in Miami.
The chorus of praise has begun for the pick. Miami U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart quickly issued a statement:
“I am excited to learn of Alex Acosta’s nomination for Labor Secretary. He has an impressive record of achievement.
He is a man of great principle, integrity and courage, and I am confident he will do an excellent job serving our nation,” he said.
From FIU president Mark Rosenberg:
“Alex Acosta is a thoughtful, conscientious American who is dedicated to excellence, integrity and public service. We are proud that he is the first Hispanic nominated to serve in President Trump’s cabinet,” he said.
From Cesar L. Alvarez, senior chairman of the law firm Greenberg Traurig:
“Alex Acosta has catapulted FIU Law to the ranks of top law schools in a very short time by focusing on the challenges being faced by the legal profession and finding creative new solutions.”
We look forward to him bringing this same focus to the labor department.
Acosta, who served as South Florida's top federal prosecutor during George W. Bush’s second is seen as a traditional conservative and is recognized as a political pragmatist.
Trump made this surprise announcement at this otherwise combative 1 p.m. news conference. He used one of his usual adjective in praising Acosta: “He’s going to be a tremendous Secretary of Labor,” he told reporters. We agree.
As U.S. attorney, Acosta was at first relatively unknown because after graduating from Gulliver Preparatory School in the Miami area, he went to college and then law school at Harvard University.
In the Bush administration, he served on the National Labor Relations Board and then rose through the Justice Department to become head of the civil rights section.
During his tenure, the South Florida office was known for prosecuting major drug trafficking, terrorism and fraud cases, including obtaining a conviction of super-GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff in the notorious Sun Cruz casino case.
We’ve been waiting a long time to say this: Good job, President Trump.