U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Resigns in Ongoing Shakeup

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As part of the ongoing leadership purge at the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna submitted his resignation on Friday at the request of President Donald Trump.

Cissna announced his resignation in an email to staff, acknowledging that Trump had asked him to leave.


Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is now set to take over as director of the agency, which oversees legal immigration.

“At the request of the President, I submitted my resignation today effective June 1, 2019,” Cissna wrote in the email, as reported by BuzzFeed News. “During the past 20 months, every day, I have passionately worked to carry out USCIS’ mission to faithfully administer the nation’s lawful immigration system. We are the agency charged with safeguarding its integrity and promise.”


Cissna’s idea of safeguarding the agency’s integrity was a little different than that of his predecessors. Among his actions as director was an effort to shut down the agency’s international division, including closing 21 overseas offices. And last year, Cissna spearheaded an initiative that seeks to denaturalize Americans suspected of cheating to obtain citizenship. To carry that effort out, Cissna hired “several dozen” lawyers and immigration officers to review cases, the Associated Press reported last year.

Cissna’s ouster reportedly was pushed by White House adviser Stephen Miller over the objections of Republican lawmakers. It is part of a shakeup at the Department of Homeland Security that already has seen former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Ronald Vitiello leave.


The new guy, Cuccinelli, is even more awful than his predecessor. Despite previously being a “Never-Trumper,” Cuccinelli’s views on immigration and other issues are in step with Trump’s. He has compared U.S. immigration policy to exterminating rats. He called the Affordable Care Act a “national embarrassment.” And he has downplayed the factors that cause climate change.

This week, Media Matters for America reported on comments Cuccinelli made in 2018 to Breitbart.com’s radio show, suggesting that states could start a war with migrant caravans under established war powers. He said the U.S. has been “invaded for a long time and so the border states clearly qualify here to utilize this power themselves.”


“When someone comes across your border without your permission, it’s an invasion. Their purpose here is to violate the border, to violate our sovereignty, for their own purposes. That’s an invasion,” he said, Media Matters noted.

Cuccinelli said states should “line their National Guard up” to turn back migrants at the border.


“You just point them back across the river and let them swim for it,” he said.