Top House Democrats on Tuesday challenged the appointment of Ken Cuccinelli to be acting director at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, saying President Trump appeared to be doing an end-run around the law.
The Democrats — chairs of three committees with oversight powers — said Mr. Trump knew Mr. Cuccinelli would never be confirmed for the job, with even some Senate Republicans opposed.
Faced with that hurdle, the administration first ushered out USCIS Director Francis Cissna, then created a new post of “principal deputy director” and named Mr. Cuccinelli to that job, giving him seniority over the current deputy director, Mark Koumans.
That put Mr. Cuccinelli in line to supersede Mr. Koumans and become acting director, the administration says.
The Democratic chairs demanded a briefing on the chain of events, and also demanded to see the documents Homeland Security worked up discussing or justifying the moves.
“It appears that Mr. Cuccinelli was appointed in a manner that circumvents the Federal Vacancies Reform Act,” wrote the lawmakers, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings and Homeland Security Chairman Bennie G. Thompson.
Mr. Cuccinelli, a former attorney general in Virginia, had been under consideration to be the White House’s immigration czar, coordinating policy amid the border surge.
He was instead named a senior advisor at the Homeland Security Department, then when Mr. Cissna was pushed out he became the pick earlier this month to head USCIS, which oversees legal immigration policy.
He’s already made a mark, issuing guidance to USCIS officers telling them to warn legal immigrants and their sponsors to make sure the immigrants don’t become burdens to taxpayers.
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