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Trump appoints radical right-wing bigot to top immigration post

Ken Cuccinelli has compared immigrants to rats and fought to end birthright citizenship.

By Emily Singer - May 21, 2019
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Ken Cuccinelli
From left, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, laugh before President Donald Trump arrived to announce his support for the first major rewrite of the nation's criminal justice sentencing laws in a generation in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018.

The Daily Beast reported Monday that Trump has chosen anti-immigrant bigot Ken Cuccinelli to be acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, one of the most prominent immigration roles in the Trump administration, where he will be in charge of legal immigration and asylum applications.

Cuccinelli — who served as both a Virginia state senator and Virginia attorney general — has a long history of pushing vile anti-immigrant policies.

First, Cuccinelli was one of the many Republicans who pushed the false and racist “birther” conspiracy theory that stated former President Barack Obama wasn’t an American citizen.

Cuccinelli has also compared immigrants to rats, saying on a 2012 conservative radio show, “[The D.C. wildlife protection policy] is worse than our immigration policy — you can’t break up rat families. Or raccoons or all the rest, and you can’t even kill them. Unbelievable.”

While serving in the Virginia state Senate, Cuccinelli urged Congress to end birthright citizenship by amending the Constitution’s 14th Amendment to clarify that only people born to U.S. citizens are citizens of the United States. As it stands, anyone who is born on U.S. soil is a U.S. citizen, regardless of their parents’ immigration status.

He also introduced a bill that would make it “misconduct” for an employee to not speak English in their workplace — an effort to ban non-English speakers from receiving unemployment benefits.

And during his time as Virginia attorney general, Cuccinelli tried to implement a rule similar to Arizona’s SB 1070, which allowed law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone it pulled over or arrested. The law was widely condemned as legalizing racial profiling.

Now, Cuccinelli will help coordinate the Trump administration’s immigration policies — which have been racist and cruel to immigrants.

Cuccinelli may have gotten the job over Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, who made ridiculous demands as he sought the job, including unlimited access to private planes.

While Cuccinelli didn’t make ridiculous demands, he’s just as anti-immigrant as Kobach.

With Cuccinelli leading immigration policy efforts, expect more cruelty toward immigrants to come from the Trump administration.

This piece was updated on June 10 with new details on Cuccinelli’s appointment. 

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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