Trump’s Hardline Immigration Chief Was Unlawfully Appointed, Advocates Say

Immigration advocacy groups are challenging the legitimacy of Ken Cuccinelli’s appointment as acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, calling on the Department of Justice to force the former Virginia attorney general to prove he is legally eligible to serve in the role.

In a letter sent to Attorney General William Barr on Monday, the advocates claim that Cuccinelli’s appointment violated a federal law governing which officials can be picked to lead agencies on an acting or interim basis.

The letter, written by Democracy Forward, calls on Barr to force Cuccinelli, an immigration hardliner, to prove his legal basis for the position. The letter was signed by seven immigrant advocacy groups, including RAICES and the National Immigration Law Center.

Cuccinelli has made use of his short time leading the agency, pushing policies that cut back the time immigrants have to consult with attorneys before their initial asylum interviews and imploring asylum officers to be stricter in the interviews.

He has maintained an active Twitter feed where he has attacked the asylum officers’ union for criticizing a policy that forces immigrants to remain in Mexico, advertised his TV appearances, and shown continuous support for immigration policies pushed by the president, including a ban on asylum for those who reached the border through Mexico.

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.

Cuccinelli was selected as acting director by President Trump in early June, after being hired to a position that did not appear to exist before his arrival. The advocates believe his appointment violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

By Hamed Aleazis for BuzzFeed.News
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