As part of an effort to “toughen” his stance against illegal immigration, President Trump is said to be replacing the outgoing L. Francis Cissna with Ken Cuccinelli as the new director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Cissna sent an email to agency employees Friday evening saying:
”At the request of the President, I submitted my resignation today, effective June 1, 2019.”
That statement would indicate that President Trump has indeed fired the Peruvian-American official.
Cissna’s forced resignation follows a month after President Trump shook up the leadership at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) firing DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the Department’s Undersecretary for Management Claire Grady, Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles, and Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Ronald Vitiello.
In most cases, if not all, Trump has removed officials for not enforcing his demands and/or questioning him. Specifically, with regard to Vitiello, the President and others in sync with his views did not think he would be tough enough against illegal immigration.
“Soft” Stance On Illegal Immigration Leads To Cissna’s Removal
Last fall, Cisna, and the White House clashed during a conference call. It was reported to be a shouting match between a senior White House official demanding that he take a stronger stance on illegal immigration.
The shouting match with Cissna was said to have taken place last fall with reports identifying that senior White House official also being Miller. At the time of the DHS firings, it was reported that Cissna would be among the next to be let go.
In one instance it was reported that White House aide Stephen Miller berated Vitiello for not moving fast enough during another call in March.
In fact, The Washington Post writes that Stephen Miller had initially railed against Cissna to the President, “saying he is not in favor of the Trump administration’s agenda and has delayed some of its biggest initiatives — while not writing enough regulations.”
If it had not been for some Republican senators and “hard-line immigration hawks” coming to Cissna’s defense, Miller would have gotten his way to have the CIS Director fired along with other officials purged in April.
The Washington Post writes:
”Cissna, the son of an immigrant mother from Peru, is a bespectacled career bureaucrat who quotes classics and is fluent in Spanish. He fits in well with academics and policy wonks, and he prioritizes following immigration law to the letter.”
Given the President’s harsh anti-immigrant views, Cissna’s ethnicity and immigrant background is likely also an issue with the Trump administration and reasons enough to believe he would be more likely to hesitate to the President’s demands.
One Major Republican Against Cuccinelli
While not formally announced, the chance that Trump is tapping former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the position is already drawing up controversy. Especially among the Republican leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell has said that he would block Cuccinelli from being confirmed for any position after he led an effort against the Senate Majority Leader in 2014. The former attorney general also promoted hard-right candidates against Republican incumbents. He made his opposition clear to reporters last month.
While it is unknown exactly what role Cuccinelli will play, it’s been suggested that he would become the administration’s immigration czar within DHS. His position might outrank any DHS secretary in order to “smooth out” communication and planning among the departments of Defense, Justice, Health and Human Services, and DHS.
Kris Kobach Out Of The Running?
Former Secretary of State for Kansas, Kris Kobach, was reportedly also under consideration for the position, though it’s unknown if his recent list of demands to the White House has affected that consideration.
Kobach has already made headlines within the first year of the Trump administration by his own efforts to falsely claim that thousands of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 causing her to win the popular vote.
Not unlike McConnell vowing to stop Ken Cuccinelli, National Republicans are preparing to intervene in the Kansas Senate primary in order to make sure Kobach does not win the nomination for a seat in the US Senate should he run.
But it’s unlikely that McConnell will be able to stop Cuccinelli, especially if Trump creates the czar position. This is because doing so would not require Senate confirmation making McConnell’s vow to stop him irrelevant. It’s in this case that the Trump administration is that much closer to succeeding in being much harder on illegal immigration.