Trump Taps Conservative Ken Cuccinelli to Head Citizenship Agency

He'll do so at a time when there is a backlog of roughly 700,000 people seeking asylum in the U.S.

Ken Cuccinelli, the head of a conservative political action committee that has caused headaches for Republican senators, has been tapped as acting director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, according to a Department of Homeland Security official.

DHS secretary Kevin McAleenan announced the move in an email to agency staff Monday, though the mechanics of whether it would include an official nomination were not immediately clear, NBC News reports. In any event, Cuccinelli, head of the Senate Conservatives Fund and a former Virginia attorney general, is expected to take over at least on an interim basis at USCIS, which is responsible for the administration of legal immigration, including dealing with asylum claims, issuing green cards and handling the naturalization process.

Because of the rancorous relationship between his Senate Conservatives Fund and some GOP lawmakers, Cuccinelli would be expected to have a difficult time winning confirmation to a permanent post in the Trump administration.

"He’s spent a fair amount of his career attacking Republicans in the Senate, so it strikes me as an odd position for him to put himself in to seek Senate confirmation,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told Politico last week. “It’s unlikely he’s going to be confirmed if he is nominated.”

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