Ken Cuccinelli will take the second-ranking job at the Department of Homeland Security, alongside former lobbyist Chad Wolf, who will work as the acting secretary of the agency.
The purpose and impact of Cuccinelli’s reported transfer are unclear, partly because he has won plaudits for his activist role at the critical U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency. The USCIS agency oversees the award of green cards, citizenship, and many of the visa worker programs, ensuring contrast pressure from pro-migration, cheap labor business groups.
Cuccinelli’s impending transfer was reported Wednesday by CNN, just as the Senate confirmed Wolf to be the undersecretary of strategy, policy, and plans at DHS.
The White House has not announced its nominee for DHS secretary, following the departure of Kevin McAleenan.
Cuccinelli’s movement could be a promotion or a demotion, said Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies: Is Cuccinelli being promoted so he can push the president’s agenda through an often-hostile DHS bureaucracy, or is he being transferred out of the USCIS into a powerless job? “That’s the big question,” Vaughan said.
Cuccinelli has pushed President Donald Trump’s high wages, lower immigration policy. For example, USCIS announced Wednesday that it would revamp work permit rules to deny work permits to migrants who apply for asylum after being caught while crossing the border. An agency statement said:
“Our immigration system is in crisis. Illegal aliens are gaming our asylum system for economic opportunity, which undermines the integrity of our immigration system and delays relief for legitimate asylum seekers in need of humanitarian protection,” said Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “USCIS must take steps to address pull factors encouraging aliens to illegally enter the United States and exploit our asylum framework. These proposed reforms are designed to restore integrity to the asylum system and lessen the incentive to file an asylum application for the primary purpose of obtaining work authorization.”
The agency told Breitbart that it had provided 400,000 migrants with work permits in 2017. This flood added roughly one migrant for every ten young Americans who entered the job market in 2017.
The proposed rollback is anathema to the business groups who lobby to preserve the flood of migrant workers, renters, and consumers. A Reuters report noted:
Airbnb, Chobani, Western Union and a dozen other companies are urging the withdrawal of a Trump administration proposal to slow down the work permit approval process for asylum seekers.
The companies – joined by Uniqlo, Ben & Jerry’s, DoorDash and others – spoke out against a recently proposed regulation in a letter sent to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Friday.
“We are concerned that the proposed rule would hurt our ability to attract and retain talent,” they wrote. “Many of the undersigned companies already have asylum seekers in our workforce and many will have need to hire members of this population in the months ahead.”
According to Buzzfeed:
The policy would make ineligible, in most circumstances, work permits to those who do not enter the country at a port of entry and delay the time it takes for those who apply for asylum — either while already present in the US or after crossing the border and referred to immigration court — to become qualified to apply for a work permit, from 150 days to 365 days. Those who are convicted of any felony or “serious” nonpolitical crimes abroad will be denied work permits as well. Elsewhere, those arrested or charged with certain crimes could be denied access to work permits.
The proposal also aims to cut a little-known method for those expected to obtain asylum from getting their work permits before a sometimes lengthy background check is conducted. The “recommended approvals” for affirmative asylum — protection sought from asylum seekers away from the border and within a year of entry to the US — have been issued in the past to those whose cases are deemed worthy of an asylum grant but whose background investigations or other matters have not been fully approved. The recommended approval allows the asylum-seeker a chance to apply for a work permit before the 150-day wait period. The proposal would cut the approval and force asylum-seekers to wait for their clearance or other matters to be completed.
Cuccinelli has also imposed pro-Ameican reforms on agency officials, many of whom prefer to aid migrants. In early November, Cuccinelli told Full Measure News that he has had to deal with 27 USCIS employees who leaked to the media and other places:
It’s sort of an open secret that there are people in the federal government who align themselves … with a progressive or liberal agenda on some of these issues than a conservative or President Trump agenda. Have you run into that?
Cuccinelli: I have encountered that. I will tell you that in my first 100 days here we disciplined 27 leakers. We have a handful more still in the pipeline for discipline. I have had confrontations unfortunately with employees instigated by them, not by me, on policy matters that our agency is engaged in, and I think those discussions, frankly, are more appropriate to the political arena than to an employee-management relationship.
On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed Wolf to the role of Under Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans. The vote was 54 to 41.
“I want to thank the President for nominating me to this critical position and for the U.S. Senate for taking action,” said a statement from Wolf:
I have served the Department since inauguration day and am honored to serve as the first Under Secretary for Policy … I am continually inspired by the tireless and exemplary work of the men and women of the Office of Policy in support of the Department’s mission.
In a message released Wednesday, Wolf announced:
I’d like to announce that Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli will serve as the senior official performing the duties of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. Ken Cuccinelli has been a constant and vocal advocate for the men and women of the Department who are protecting our borders and restoring integrity to our immigration system. As Virginia’s Attorney General he led the state in its fight against human trafficking and record enforcement against gangs, fraud and child predators.
Before President Trump’s election, Wolf served as a lobbyist for NASSCOM, an Indian-based association of companies that use the H-1B and L-1 visa-worker programs to insert cheap Indian graduates into the U.S. jobs sought by American graduates.
Administration officials told Breitbart News that Wolf would recuse himself from H-1B decisions.
Pres. Trump needs to pick a new secretary for the Dept. of Homeland Security — and the leading candidate is a lobbyist for the Indian & US companies that use H-1Bs visas to send roughly 2 million good college-grad jobs to Indians. https://t.co/2Y02rjvDp0
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) October 21, 2019