Cuccinelli unlawfully appointed to head Citizenship and Immigration Services, judge rules

A federal judge dominated Sunday that a single of the Trump administration’s best immigration officers, Ken Cuccinelli, was unlawfully appointed to his post since of a many years-previous law on federal vacancies.

U.S. District Choose Randolph Moss ruled that Cuccinelli’s appointment as the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) circumvented a law that stated a senior authorities position could be loaded only if the Senate initially permitted the person.

It was not right away obvious what effect this would have on Cuccinelli’s tenure, if any.

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Cuccinelli, also the deputy secretary of Homeland Security, was provided his purpose soon after his predecessor at USCIS, Lee Cissna, resigned in June 2019. USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans really should have rightfully assumed the post, Moss outlined in his ruling.

Nevertheless, performing DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who later on resigned, produced a place for Cuccinelli, naming him the principal deputy USCIS director, and then reorganized the section to put his purpose in advance of Koumans’ position.

Since Cuccinelli was not legally suitable to serve as acting USCIS director, in accordance to the decide, some of his decisions — such as one that minimal the entry some asylum-seekers experienced to attain lawful counsel — could be voided.

A few months just after assuming his publish at USCIS, Cuccinelli applied a new directive that lower the time asylum-seekers experienced to put together and complete “credible anxiety interviews.”

Cuccinelli’s rule gave migrants at the very least one calendar day to get ready for the screening interviews, as a substitute of 72 several hours for family members and, normally, 48 hours for one grownups. Extensions had been granted only “in the most amazing circumstances,” this sort of as a really serious illness or mental or bodily incapacity.

Moss’s ruling concluded a lawsuit filed on behalf of five Honduran asylum-seekers difficult Cuccinelli’s new regulations, but the ruling permitted only the five defendants in the accommodate to revisit their asylum cases with USCIS, not the other asylum seekers who also may possibly have been afflicted.

Cuccinelli advised Fox News previous November his most significant problem was “how DHS rolls forward from a leadership standpoint. I have had discussions with the president and the White House about that, and we will have to see wherever the dust settles.”

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He continued, “I saw not long ago senators, bipartisan senators, stating “hey, we want far more of these slots crammed.” Nicely, it could possibly assist if the Senate would shift them a minimal faster.”

Republican senators warned the White Dwelling that appointing Cucinelli would violate the legislation and facial area backlash from the courts.