President Donald Trump has appointed immigration hardliner Ken Cuccinelli to lead the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and in an email to staff Monday, laid out a direction for the agency that echoed much of the president’s restrictive immigration policies and rhetoric.
Cuccinelli’s hiring at the Department of Homeland Security agency is the latest change in leadership at the department as the Trump administration continues to search for ways to curb migration flows at the border.
“We must work hand in hand with our colleagues within DHS along with our other federal partners to address challenges to our legal immigration system and enforce existing immigration law. Together we will continue to work to stem the crisis at our southwest border,” Cuccinelli wrote to staff Monday morning in an email obtained by BuzzFeed News.
“We will also work to find long term solutions to close asylum loopholes that encourage many to make the dangerous journey into the United States so that those who truly need humanitarian protections and meet the criteria under the law receive them,” he said.
As a Virginia lawmaker in 2008, Cuccinelli sponsored a resolution calling for a rewrite of the Constitution to deny citizenship to Americans who were born to immigrants who crossed the border without authorization. Now, as director of USCIS, he is leading the agency in charge of assessing naturalization applications and administering the process, which includes interviews and oaths.
The high-profile leadership switches at the Department of Homeland Security began in early April, when then–acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Ronald Vitiello had his nomination to lead the agency withdrawn by Trump. Soon after, then–DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stepped down, followed by the departures of the acting deputy secretary and the chief of staff.
In the time since, acting heads have taken over at DHS and at ICE, US Customs and Border Protection, and, now, USCIS.
One DHS official said the announcement was dropped on employees suddenly and could be distracting during an already tumultuous time.
By Hamed Aleazis for BUZZFEED.NEWS
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