Mar 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Federal judge rules Ken Cuccinelli unlawfully ran immigration agency

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

A federal district judge in D.C. ruled on Sunday that Ken Cuccinelli’s placement as the acting top official at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

Why it matters: Policies that were put in place under Cuccinelli are now void, including a directive that gave asylum-seekers less time to consult with legal counsel before their initial "credible fear" interview with a USCIS officer.

Details: After the resignation of Senate-confirmed USCIS director Lee Cissna, deputy director Mark Koumans automatically assumed the role of acting director because he was designated as the "first assistant" under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

  • Nine days later, acting Homeland Secretary Kevin McAleenan appointed Cuccinelli to serve as principal deputy director of USCIS, a position that had not previously existed.
  • That same day, McAleenan revised the agency's order of succession to designate the newly created position as "first assistant," allowing Cuccinelli to "leapfrog" Koumans to become acting director, per the court opinion.

What they’re saying: “Today's ruling is a big win that confirms Ken Cuccinelli’s installation and service as acting director of USCIS was unlawful. This is both a victory for the rule of law and a significant blow to the Trump administration's xenophobic agenda,” Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy said in a statement.

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Trump policies could scare immigrants away from coronavirus care

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democrats and public health experts are concerned that the Trump administration's immigration policies could scare immigrants away from getting medical help as the coronavirus spreads.

What we're watching: Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told senators on Thursday that health care facilities are already "sensitive locations" where immigration enforcement isn't carried out, except in "exigent circumstances."

Go deeperArrowMar 6, 2020 - Health

White House to pursue "1 Trillion Trees" initiative

A White House tree. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Officials from the White House, Congress, nonprofits and business will meet at the White House Wednesday to pursue a "1 Trillion Trees" initiative.

What's happening: The plan, launched in January in Davos, aims to "grow, restore and conserve 1 trillion trees around the world — in a bid to restore biodiversity and help fight climate change," the World Economic Forum said.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court allows Trump's full "Remain in Mexico" program to continue

President Trump at a rally in Phoenix in February. Photo: Caitlin O'Hara/Getty Images

The Supreme Court gave the Trump administration another immigration win on Wednesday, blocking a federal injunction that would have halted the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — or "Remain in Mexico" policy — in California and Arizona.

Why it matters: The Trump administration sent military troops to parts of the border ahead of the decision in order to prepare for any surges of migrants crossing the border if MPP was halted, per the New York Times.