Sep 12, 2019

Ken Cuccinelli: Kids of unauthorized immigrants should not have birthright citizenship

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.

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Cuccinelli asks for power to release info on refugees accused of crimes

Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli sent a memo to acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan earlier this month requesting the authority to publicize personal information about refugees and asylum seekers accused of crimes, Buzzfeed News' Hamed Aleaziz reports.

Why it matters: Only the DHS secretary currently has the power to release information about asylum seekers and refugees being prosecuted. Cuccinelli has become one of the loudest immigration hardliners in the administration, and as USCIS director, has already rolled out a series of regulations cracking down on immigrants and asylum seekers.

Go deeperArrowSep 18, 2019

News Shapers: Foreign Diplomacy and Immigration

Former US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, on the Axios stage with Mike Allen. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Thursday morning, Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen hosted a series of one-on-one conversations on the news of the day, covering topics in foreign affairs and immigration policy in the Trump presidency.

Samantha Power, Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations

United States Ambassador to the United Nations under President Obama, Samantha Power, examined recent foreign policy challenges in the Trump administration and discussed her new memoir, The Education of an Idealist.

She highlighted the role of advisors around President Trump, and how their willingness to agree or disagree with the President impacts policy outcomes.

  • On the departure of John Bolton as National Security Advisor: “Some people are relieved that Bolton is gone...but I’m worried that now what happens is the circle gets smaller and you get fewer viewpoints.”
  • On Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “I can’t recall reading a story where Sec. Pompeo challenged the president or dissents from his existing convictions.”
  • On North Korea: “I think the prioritization of North Korea and elevating it on the foreign policy agenda was very important...I do think it’s trailed off.”

Power also reflected on her time as ambassador.

  • “I think I stood up to Russian aggression...but I can’t give myself high marks for what happened in Syria.”
Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli discussed current administration policies around immigration and the recent Supreme Court ruling approving restrictions on asylum seekers.

  • On the rate of asylum seekers who are granted refuge in the United States: "If you look at credible fear interviews...Only 10 or 15% actually get asylum."
  • On the volume of the claims: "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."
  • On implementing policy: “Anything we’ve done since I’ve been in office...there’s been a strong legal foundation there."

When asked if birthright citizenship can be ended by executive order, he said there were no plans to do so in the near future, but that he'd like to see this change originate at the congressional level.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Illinois

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) talked about the recently cancelled talks with the Taliban at Camp David, his views on changes in gun legislation, and other news items of the day.

  • On the Taliban and the planned talks at Camp David: "This is a group that has not renounced terrorism...You can bring enemies to Camp David, but they have to be nation-states. When I heard that, I was pretty dismayed.”
  • On whether there will be gun legislation: “I actually do think there will be movement on universal background checks.”
  • On whether House Democrats will open impeachment proceedings: “Yes. I think they know it’s not smart politically, but I’ve been in the situation where we’ve been hostage to the extreme voices in our party.”
  • On defending President Trump: “I want to call balls and strikes...I’ll defend Trump when he needs defending and when it’s legitimate...I defend him when I can, and when I can’t, I don’t.”

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

Keep ReadingArrowSep 13, 2019

Trump administration reaches asylum deal with El Salvador

Migrants being led out of the National Institute of Migration in downtown Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Photo: Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration signed an asylum agreement with El Salvador on Friday, which could force Central American migrants who pass through the country to first seek asylum there or be sent back to the country once they reach the U.S..

Why it matters: The new agreement is the latest attempt to curtail Central Americans seeking asylum in the U.S.

Go deeperArrowSep 20, 2019