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Acting USCIS director Ken Cuccinelli. Photo: Chuck Kennedy/Axios

Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director Ken Cuccinelli told Axios' Mike Allen Thursday morning that birthright citizenship should be limited to the children of legal immigrants — although he doesn't expect any action on the issue any time soon.

The big picture: Cuccinelli declined to say whether he wants the Homeland Security secretary position or if acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan should get it permanently. "Answering questions like that creates news that shouldn't exist," he said. He said Trump has not approached him about the position, and that he will do his job aggressively.

On the Bahamas: When asked why temporary protections weren't given to Bahamians to allow them to stay in the U.S. given the damage caused by Hurricane Dorian, Cuccinelli blamed the courts for interfering.

  • Federal courts have stopped the administration from ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from places such as El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.
  • Cuccinelli said that until the program was back in executive control, he doesn't see the administration being able to issue new protections.
  • He added that the U.S. government is providing humanitarian support in other ways to the Bahamas.

On court rulings: Cuccinelli praised the Supreme Court's latest ruling, which allows immigration officials to deny asylum to migrants who do not apply for asylum first in a country they've travelled through.

  • He said he expected it to help with large backlog of asylum cases.
  • "They're clogging up the system so we can't get people with legitimate asylum claims, and they're hoping to get released into the interior."

The bottom line: Cuccinelli expressed frustration at the slew of lawsuits the administration has faced over its immigration policies. "Anything we've done since I've been in office ... there's been a strong legal foundation there," he said.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.