President Donald Trump has picked Ken Cuccinelli to help implement and coordinate his immigration policies and decisions.
The news was reported by the New York Times, which described Cuccinelli as an “immigration hard-liner … [and] aligned with Mr. Trump on issues related to border security”:
The specifics of the role — including the title and the scope of duties — are still being hashed out, according to the official. But Mr. Cuccinelli is expected to be based in the Department of Homeland Security, not in the White House.
Mr. Cuccinelli met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office on Monday, along with nearly a dozen other administration officials, including Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security. By Monday evening, Mr. Cuccinelli had begun placing calls to people to alert them that he was expected to get the job, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Cuccinelli is expected to coordinate the implementation of Trump’s border security policies, including the construction of the border wall and a reform of the catch-and-release laws and regulations.
Trump picked Cuccinelli over Kris Kobach, an immigration reformer who served as secretary of state in Kansas and has a keen understanding of migration laws.
Unless his new duties and powers are issued in writing by Trump, Cuccinelli will have to fight for influence in Trump’s free-wheeling White House and also to ensure action by agency officials, such as the current temporary head of the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan.
These other leaders — including the secretaries of state and labor — have legal control over critical immigration decisions, spending, and actions, and also have their own influence in Congress.
These cabinet secretaries also have the power to appoint and supervise a vast range of vital mid-level officials. In turn, those mid-level officials have the power to block, sideline or wreck a wide variety of policies, such as the construction of the border wall, implementation of anti-migration reforms, and reforms of the visa-worker programs promised by Trump during the 2016 election.
The report said Cuccinelli would be based at McAleenan’s DHS, not at the White House. The DHS location may curb his ability to implement Trump’s policies at agencies outside DHS.
Cuccinelli has a long record opposing illegal migration, but little record or experience with other aspects of the nation’s migration problem, such as the catch-and-release laws, and the government’s role in using legal migration to expand the nation’s new labor supply with cheap legal and illegal workers.
Cuccinelli became president of the Senate Conservatives Fund in 2014 after narrowly losing the 2013 race for the governorship of Virginia. His 2013 loss was partly blamed on lack of support from the GOP establishment.
The Senate Conservatives Fund has helped elect GOP candidates who were opposed by the establishment GOP. For example, the SCF gets some credit for helping elect Josh Hawley from Missouri.
The SCF website says:
SCF is a national grassroots organization that seeks to bring bold conservative leadership to Washington by supporting candidates who will fight for the timeless conservative principles of limited government, strong national defense, and traditional family values.
SCF helps candidates by bundling contributions for them from thousands of freedom-loving Americans across the country, and by running hard-hitting radio and television ads to promote their conservative campaigns.
SCF is not funded by special interests in Washington, it is not funded by a small group of mega donors, and it is not funded by the Republican Party. SCF is funded by the grassroots. In fact, the average contribution amount to SCF is just $45.
As head of the SCF, Cuccinelli opposed Trump during the GOP’s 2016 convention. The NYT reported:
He is a frequent presence on cable news, which Mr. Trump consumes with gusto. … he caught the president’s attention during the 2016 presidential primaries, when he led the effort to strip Mr. Trump of delegates on behalf of an opponent, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a person close to the president said.
Cuccinelli’s appointment comes at the start of the 2020 election and as Congress’ catch-and-release loopholes allow 100,000 Central American migrants each month to get into the United States, disappear into the huge population of illegals, and then get blue-collar jobs to finance the smuggling of their relatives into the United States.