President Donald Trump asked the director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to resign, the latest in a string of immigration staff purges.
“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.”
The Trump administration will place Ken Cuccinelli, the former GOP attorney general of Virginia, in Cissna’s place. 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).
Cissna’s ouster marks the most recent immigration staff change within the White House.
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.”
Speculation had grown over Cissna’s possible dismissal, with insiders having long complained about the director’s leadership.
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.
The battle for Cuccinelli may have just begun, however. While he enjoys the support of the president and White House senior advisor 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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