A federal judge has ruled that Ken Cuccinelli, who previously led the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), was unlawfully appointed to serve in that role.
U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss in Washington said in a ruling on Sunday that Cuccinellis appointment as the agencys acting director had violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA), a 1998 law governing the appointment of officers to an executive agency before a permanent replacement is appointed. As a result, two policies issued by Cuccinelli have also been suspended.
“The Court concludes that Cuccinelli was not lawfully appointed to serve as acting Director and that, as a result, he lacked authority to issue the reduced-time-to-consult and prohibition-on-extensions directives,” Moss, an Obama appointee, wrote in his opinion (pdf). “The remedy for that deficiency, moreover, is compelled by the FVRA and the [Administrative Procedure Act]: the Asylum Directives must be set aside.”
Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general, was named for the role after his predecessor at USCIS, Lee Cissna, resigned in June 2019. Moss said under the USCISs order of succession at the time, Deputy Director Mark Koumans should have become the acting director.
But the judge said acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan then created a position for Cuccinelli, giving him the title as the principal deputy director, a role that did not exist prior to Cuccinellis appointment. McAleenan then reorganized the agencys structure to put Cuccinellis role above the deputy director, effectively allowing Cuccinelli to displace Kouman as the agencys acting director.
“Cuccinelli may have the title of Principal Deputy Director, and the Department of Homeland Securitys order of succession may designate the office of the Principal Deputy Director as the first assistant to the Director,” Moss wrote. “But labels—without any substance—cannot satisfy the FVRAs default rule under any plausible reading of the statute.”
A DHS spokesperson said in a statement to The Epoch Times that the department “obviously disagree[s] with the courts decision and will be looking closely at the decision.”
The USCIS website currently shows Cuccinellis job title as “senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.”
The case came before the federal court after a coalition of immigration and civil rights groups sued the Trump administration to challenge the implementation of the two immigration policies issued by Cuccinelli. One of the directives shortens the time for asylum seekers to prepare evidence to substantiate their fear of persecution claims. The other directive prohibits asylum seekers from obtaining a continuaRead More – Source