RELEASE: 123 Groups Sign Letter Opposing the Nomination of Ken Cuccinelli To Serve as USCIS Director

Washington, D.C. — Several weeks ago, news spread that that former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was likely to be nominated to serve as the next director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Yesterday, Cuccinelli began serving as the acting director of the agency.  Today, even as a cloud forms over whether or not Cuccinelli can legally serve in an acting post, more than 123 advocacy groups—including the NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, SEIU, Muslim Advocates and United We Dream  —have signed a letter opposing Cuccinelli’s nomination. The letter cites Cuccinelli’s long history of “espous[ing] and promot[ing] anti-immigrant policies that are antithetical to the important work that would be entrusted to him as the USCIS Director.”

The letter lists many examples of his anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, including his 2005 support of a bill in the Virginia Legislature that would have banned undocumented immigrants from enrolling in state colleges as well as an interview he gave to SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily last fall, during which he suggested that border states had the right to use “war powers” to stop the Central American migrant caravan. Cuccinelli also introduced a bill in the Virginia Senate which would have allowed employers to fire any employee who doesn’t speak English and make that worker ineligible for unemployment benefits; compared immigrants to “pests” and “rats”; and tried to amend the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship.

“Over the past few years, the Trump administration has taken a wrecking ball to USCIS, destroying an agency entrusted with adjudicating immigration benefits applications and turning it into just another arm of the immigration enforcement apparatus,” said Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, which organized the sign-on letter. “Ken Cuccinelli’s long history of promoting anti-immigrant policies and using dangerous, dehumanizing rhetoric make him profoundly unfit to fulfill the important mission of USCIS. It’s difficult to see Cuccinelli as anything other than another one of President Trump and Stephen Miller’s anti-immigrant henchmen hired for the sole purpose of increasing the depravity in our already inhumane immigration system.”

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at or 202-495-3682.