South Florida is in the national spotlight following President Donald Trump's nomination Thursday of R. Alexander Acosta, the current dean of the Florida International University Law School, to be the next secretary of labor.
It’s another step in the long and storied political career of the 48-year-old Miami native, who graduated from Gulliver Prep before attending Harvard University for both his undergrad degree and law school.
After serving as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Acosta worked for a private firm and taught law before moving on to serve on both the National Labor Relations Board and later as Assistant Attorney General under the administration of former President George W. Bush.
Acosta eventually returned home to Miami and served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, gaining notoriety for prosecuting cases of fraud, including gaining a conviction in the case of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He also gained convictions for several high profile drug cases and even the first case of torture to be prosecuted in the United States.
He becomes just the fourth Florida native to hold a cabinet level position – and the second from Miami, joining the late former Attorney General Janet Reno.
"Throughout his career, Alex Acosta has been a passionate advocate for equal opportunity for all Americans," President Trump said in a statement. "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."
If confirmed, Acosta would be the first Hispanic member of Trump's Cabinet.
"I know Alex Acosta well, and he is a phenomenal choice to lead the Department of Labor," Sen. Marco Rubio said in a statement. "Whether it was his distinguished service as U.S. attorney in Florida’s Southern District or as dean of Florida International University’s school of law, Alex has succeeded in all endeavors he has taken on, and managing the Department of Labor will be no different. I look forward to his confirmation hearing, where I’m confident he will impress my colleagues and secure the support necessary to be the next secretary of labor."
Acosta has been at FIU since 2009.
"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," FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg said in a statement.