On Thursday, President Trump announced the selection of Florida International University College of Law Dean Alexander Acosta as his new pick for labor secretary following the withdrawal of Andrew Puzder. Acosta is a former federal judge, U.S. attorney, and member of the National Labor Relations Board and passed Senate confirmation for those roles.
Acosta was also assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in the Bush administration. In a 2011 Senate judiciary committee hearing, he recounted work he had done in that role on anti-Muslim bigotry, including an instance in which he had authorized the Justice Department to intervene in a case about a Muslim student in Oklahoma who had been asked by a teacher to remove her hijab on the anniversary of 9/11. “[S]hortly after we intervened to protect Nashala’s liberties,” he said, “the nation of France enacted legislation forbidding religious symbols and clothing in schools. France banned headscarves, kippahs, crosses and any other religious clothing or jewelry. Our government, by contrast, protected religious expression.”
Acosta would be the first Hispanic member of Trump’s Cabinet if appointed.