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article imageCuccinelli tapped to lead Citizenship and Immigration Services

By Karen Graham     Jun 10, 2019 in Politics
Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) on Monday began his new job as acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is a controversial appointment that may lead to a showdown between Trump and Senate Republicans.
Cuccinelli is a hardliner when it comes to immigration and border policy and it has been long-rumored he played a role as a top coordinator of the Department of Homeland Security immigration policy.
Now, it is official, and he has a title, according to an email sent to staff at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Monday, according to the Daily Beast.
The move seems to be carefully orchestrated, coming after Trump's threats of additional tariffs on Mexico's exports and his administration's attempts to crack down on the crowds of asylum seekers coming up from Central America, through Mexico to reach our southern border.
“Our nation has the most generous legal immigration system in the world and we must zealously safeguard its promise for those who lawfully come here,” Cuccinelli said in a statement distributed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “I look forward to working with the men and women of USCIS to ensure our legal immigration system operates effectively and efficiently while deterring fraud and protecting the American people.”
“Together we will continue to work to stem the crisis at our southwest border,” the letter continued. “We will also work to find long-term solutions to close asylum loopholes that encourage many to make the dangerous journey to the United States so that those who truly need humanitarian protections and meet the criteria under the law receive them.”
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking to the press after a Republican senators' we...
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking to the press after a Republican senators' weekly lunch at the US Capitol in Washington, DC
NICHOLAS KAMM, AFP/File
A lot of controversy in appointment
Cuccinelli replaces Lee Francis Cissna, who was forced out as USCIS chief late last month during Trump's shakeup of the department engineered by top White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, reports The Hill.
Cuccinelli is sort of safe right now because he is the "acting" director, but if Trump decides to appoint him as the permanent director, there will be some fireworks.
WTVR-Richmond is reporting that once the word came out that Cuccinelli was to be picked for the position, the head of a union representing agency employees said his potential appointment “spells the end of legal immigration as it currently exists.”
“It has become clear that the goal of this administration is to end immigration altogether. How better to do that than by appointing as the leader of USCIS someone who knows nothing about immigration, Adjustment of Status or Naturalization, and whose sole purpose is to destroy the agency that grants these benefits,” said union president Danielle Spooner in a statement last month.
And Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell is another force to be dealt with. McConnell's animosity with Cuccinelli dates back to 2014 when the Cuccinelli-led Senate Conservatives Fund tried to oust the top Senate Republican. Then, in April this year, McConnell spoke out against Cuccinelli when he heard he was being considered for the position of acting director of the USCIS.
"He’s spent a fair amount of his career attacking Republicans in the Senate, so it strikes me as an odd position for him to put himself in to seek Senate confirmation,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said last week, according to Politico. “It’s unlikely he’s going to be confirmed if he is nominated.”
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