Ken Cuccinelli has been named acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, effective immediately. The announcement was made by acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan.

Cuccinelli, a former attorney general of Virginia, steps into the role left by L. Francis Cissna, who resigned effective June 1. Since March, the administration has replaced multiple top immigration officials, including the heads of DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“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 Monday. “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.” He also said he would work toward long-term policies to “close asylum loopholes.”

As Virginia attorney general, Cuccinelli supported Arizona’s SB 1070 law and issued a legal opinion authorizing law enforcement officers in Virginia to check the immigration status of anyone they stopped. As a state senator, he proposed legislation allowing employers to fire employees who did not speak English and advocated for a Constitutional amendment to restrict birthright citizenship.

BAL Analysis: Former Director Cissna, who has decades of experience in immigration law and policy, set in motion sweeping changes to almost every aspect of the immigration system. Acting Director Cuccinelli’s priorities are not yet known. BAL is following these developments and will report additional changes as information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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