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Immigration hawk Ken Cuccinelli to head US agency overseeing H-1B visa programme

Cuccinelli, a Republican who was previously attorney general of Virginia state and had been considered for an “immigration czar position, will hold the position in “acting” capacity now.

world Updated: Jun 11, 2019 09:09 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
H-1B,H1B,H1b
Ken Cuccinelli, who is seen as an immigration hawk by critics, was on Monday named acting head of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).(AP file photo)

Ken Cuccinelli, who is seen as an immigration hawk by critics, was on Monday named acting head of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which runs the country’s legal immigration system including the H-1B visa programme that has been a popular gateway for Indian professionals to work and live in America and go on to seek citizenship.

Cuccinelli succeeds Lee Francis Cissna, who oversaw major changes in the H-1B visa programme to tailor it in the mold of President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” vision, that included decision to end work-authorization for some H-1B souses, accord priority to advanced-degree holders for H-1B, and ramped up scrutiny that has resulted in more rejections and requests for more information to adjudicate applications. But he was ousted for not moving fast enough.

“Our nation has the most generous legal immigration system in the world and we must zealously safeguard its promise for those who lawfully come here,” Cuccinelli said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the men and women of USCIS to ensure our legal immigration system operates effectively and efficiently while deterring fraud and protecting the American people.”

Also read: Opinion | Trump’s America may be driving Indians out

Cuccinelli, a Republican who was previously attorney general of Virginia state and had been considered for an “immigration czar position, will hold the position in “acting” capacity now and it was not clear if he will be given a permanent status as that would require senate confirmation, chances of which appear dim.

Cuccinelli is expected to be more of a hardliner than his predecessor as he is said to have the backing of Stephen Miller, one of the president’s most hawkish advisers on immigration who has cross-haired H-1B visa programme for urgent and major overhaul.

Critics consider him an immigration hardliner, who is said to have opposed citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants, who are now protected from deportation by an Obama-era regulation that the Trump administration has decided to rescind, has tended to echo the president’s on the waves of migrants reaching US border with Mexico seeking asylum.

“Donald Trump continues to surround himself with anti-immigration extremists and enablers who will spew his baseless lies and promote his hateful agenda,” said Hispanic Media Director for the Democratic National Committee Enrique Gutiérrez in a statement. “Ken Cuccinelli brings no solutions to the table and will fall right in line with extremist Stephen Miller.”

First Published: Jun 10, 2019 23:39 IST