Trump Replacing Top Immigration Chief With Ken Cuccinelli

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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The Trump administration will name Ken Cuccinelli, the former GOP attorney general of Virginia, as director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The Daily Caller confirmed earlier in May that the president had decided to select the immigration hardliner for a top post within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The appointment marks the most recent immigration staff change within the White House. Trump had previously asked for the resignation of the previous office holder.

“At the request of the President, I submitted my resignation today effective June 1, 2019,” USCIS L. Francis Cissna wrote to staff on Friday, according to an email first obtained by The Washington Post. “During the past 20 months, every day, I have passionately worked to carry out USCIS’ mission to faithfully administer the nation’s lawful immigration system. We are the agency charged with safeguarding its integrity and promise.”

Speculation had grown over Cissna’s possible dismissal, with insiders having long complained about the director’s leadership.

Trump accepted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation in April, several days after pulling then-acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Ron Vitiello’s nomination to lead the agency in an official capacity. In reference to the recent purges, the president said he wanted to take his immigration agenda into a “tougher direction.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing On EB-5 Investor Visa Program

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 19: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee June 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony on recent immigration issues relating to border security and the EB-5 Investor Visa Program. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A former administration official who worked alongside Cissna told the Caller in April that he has “let the bureaucracy overwhelm him to the point of grinding everything to a halt,” and that he “has not done one” administrative action in attempting to reform the way asylum claims are processed at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Cuccinelli, on the other hand, has a history of taking a hardline approach to illegal immigration.

The former Virginia attorney general opposes birthright citizenship and wants to strip illegal immigrants of unemployment benefits. Cucinelli has also defended the Trump administration’s immigration agenda in numerous media television appearances. (RELATED: Judge Raises Serious Questions About Democrats’ Border Wall Lawsuit)

The battle for Cuccinelli may have just begun, however. While he enjoys the support of the president and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, Cuccinelli is adamantly opposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Kentucky Republican has previously vowed to block his confirmation for any posts within administration.

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