A Trump administration nominee key to implementing the president’s tough immigration agenda is still awaiting Senate confirmation despite having little trouble clearing committee.
Lee Francis Cissna, nominated to serve as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services back in April, sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 17-2 vote in mid-June.
But that doesn’t impress UnidosUS, a liberal Latino advocacy group formerly known as the National Council of La Raza, which still wants the Senate to reject the Cissna nomination.
“Mr. Cissna’s role in shaping immigration policies that hurt millions of American families, and his lack of management and oversight experience, make him eminently unqualified to lead USCIS,” said Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro, the group’s deputy vice president, in a statement in June.
A former chief counsel at USCIS, Cissna is currently director of immigration policy at the Department of Homeland Security and was reportedly critical of the USCIS while working for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
That would hardly mark the first time President Donald Trump had named a critic to lead a federal agency, however, as part of his effort to “drain the swamp.”
Another example is Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who previously sued the EPA while serving as Oklahoma attorney general. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was a longtime school choice and charter school advocate.
Still, UnidosUS seized on a report by ProPublica, a liberal-leaning investigative journalism website, that said Cissna was the “ghostwriter” for many of Grassley’s memos while working for the Iowa lawmaker that were critical of President Barack Obama’s liberal immigration initiatives, such as an emergency program for Central American children and an asylum program for Mexicans.
ProPublica says the “dozens of letters” Cissna wrote for Grassley have left “many clues about how he could reverse Obama-era policies if he becomes director of [USCIS].” Hence, the opposition to his nomination by immigrant advocacy groups.
Grassley scoffs at the assertion of Cissna’s purported “lack of management and oversight experience.”
By Fred Lucas for THE DAILY SIGNAL
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