“When Chad Wolf speaks, watch to see if Ken Cuccinelli’s lips are moving.”
After a tricky maneuver to circumvent the rules, which allowed Chad Wolf to be installed as the Acting Secretary of DHS, yesterday it was revealed via an email to DHS staff that Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli would be appointed Acting Deputy Secretary of DHS. It is expected that the anti-immigrant hardliner will have even greater influence over the agency and immigration policy.
House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) pulled no punches in a statement about the move, saying:
It seems that President Trump just couldn’t fight the urge to play to his base by elevating Ken Cuccinelli to another senior leadership position at DHS that he is wholly unqualified for. Mr. Cuccinelli is nothing more than an anti-immigrant fringe figure and Trump sycophant.
Cuccinelli as Acting Director of USCIS has been a lightning rod for controversy. He proudly defends the Trump administration’s crusade against immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. It is said that the most dangerous place in Washington these days is between Ken Cuccinelli and a camera. More than just a spokesperson for radical xenophobia, he unilaterally decided to end medical deferred action to hasten deportation of very sick children. He has used his position to erect barriers to legal immigration and to propose a huge fee increase to citizenship, permanent residence and even asylum (joining Iran as one of the few nations that does that.) He seems to relish the prospect of ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) once and for all, and said the Trump administration will “use every tool in the tool box” to enact its anti-immigration agenda, implying that even the Supreme Court is considered one of the tools by the Trump team.
Cuccinelli has long been a player in the anti-immigrant movement. Once the hard-charging Attorney General of Virginia, he ran for Governor on a campaign dripping with xenophobia, Islamophobia and homophobia. Having hastened the transformation of Virginia from red to purple to blue, he seems intent on doing the same for the nation.
Cuccinelli has created enemies in both parties. He engaged in actively recruiting candidates to run against incumbent Republican Senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. As a result, Senate Republicans made it clear to Trump that he would never get the votes to be confirmed as the next DHS Secretary.
But McConnell and his members gave in, to an extent. They confirmed Chad Wolf to the post of Undersecretary of the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans, which enabled Trump to name him Acting DHS Secretary. This opened the door for Cuccinelli to be installed as Acting Deputy Secretary of DHS.
According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:
When Chad Wolf speaks, watch to see if Ken Cuccinelli’s lips are moving. We fully expect Wolf to be a figurehead, with Cuccinelli and white supremacist Stephen Miller calling the shots. It is bad enough that Wolf was a key player in the disastrous family separation policy that ripped more than five thousand kids from their parents at the border with no plan to reunite them. Now we have Cuccinelli pulling the strings on Miller and Trump’s scorched earth immigration policy. Watch for DHS to become even more fully integrated into the Trump 2020 reelection campaign than they already are.