Ken Cuccinelli Wanted to End Birthright Citizenship and Militarize Border

Revealing background:

Former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli’s long-rumored role as a top coordinator of the Department of Homeland Security immigration policy finally has an official title. According to an email sent to staff at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Monday, the longtime border hawk has been named acting director of the agency, whose 19,000 employees orchestrate the country’s immigration and naturalization system.

“We must work hand in hand with our colleagues within DHS, along with our other federal partners, to address challenges to our legal immigration system and enforce existing immigration law,” Cuccinelli wrote in an email to his new colleagues. “Together we will continue to work to stem the crisis at our southwest border.”

The note also previews an escalation of Trump’s crackdown on the asylum system, with Cuccinelli vowing to “work to find long-term solutions to close asylum loopholes that encourage many to make the dangerous journey into the United States so that those who truly need humanitarian protections… receive them.”

As Virginia’s top law enforcement official and in his years serving in the Virginia state senate, Cuccinelli laid a long track of aggressive anti-immigrant policies intended to restrict access to public services, employment, and even citizenship from migrants and their families. That record, combined with his vociferous defense of President Donald Trump on cable news and in conservative media outlets, puts Cuccinelli firmly in line with an administration that has made combating undocumented immigration its top domestic policy goal.

In his new role at Homeland Security, Cuccinelli will be one of the Trump administration’s top bosses on immigration-related matters, a portfolio that has felled other senior administration officials in recent months as the president has grown dissatisfied with stubbornly high rates of illegal entry into the United States.

If his record on immigration issues is any indication, Cuccinelli will embrace that role with relish. While his support for President Donald Trump may be relatively newfound, his championing of hardline Trump-style immigration policies is more than a decade in the making.

Although Cuccinelli first drew national attention during his time as Virginia’s attorney general for his attempts to keep laws against oral sexon the books, he also became a staunch advocate on behalf of aggressive immigration policies in other states. In 2010, Cuccinelli filed an amicus brief in support of S.B. 1070, an Arizona law that allowed police officers to investigate the immigration status of any person arrested or detained by law enforcement based on a “reasonable suspicion” that they were in the country illegally. That same year, he released a legal opinionexpanding a similar policy to include any suspected undocumented immigrant stopped by law enforcement for any reason.

“Virginia law enforcement officers have the authority to make the same inquiries as those contemplated by the new Arizona law,” Cuccinelli wrote in the opinion. “So long as the officers have the requisite level of suspicion to believe that a violation of the law has occurred, the officers may detain and briefly question a person they suspect has committed a federal crime.”

Cuccinelli told reporters at the time that any police officer had the authority to question potential undocumented immigrants “so long as they don’t extend the duration of a stop by any significant degree.”

Those stances on illegal immigration appear tame compared to other proposals that Cuccinelli had backed before becoming attorney general. During his eight years in the Virginia state senate, Cuccinelli was the chief patron—the body’s version of primary sponsor—of a rash of bills targeting undocumented immigrants in the commonwealth.

One proposed law would have allowed employers to fire employees who didn’t speak English in their workplace, and stipulated that any employee so fired would be “disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation benefits.” Another bill would have allowed businesses to sue competitors that they believed to be employing undocumented immigrants for economic damages, plus $500 “for each such illegal alien employed by the defendant.”

In one case, Cuccinelli championed one of Trump’s most aggressive immigration policies before Trump himself did. In a 2008 bill, Cuccinelli urged Congress to call a constitutional convention to amend the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution “to clarify specifically that a person born to a parent who is a U. S. citizen is also a citizen of the United States,” to the exclusion of the children of undocumented immigrants who are born in the United States.

Immigration advocates called Cuccinelli’s appointment as acting head of the nation’s top immigration agency “deeply troubling.”

“Whether Ken Cuccinelli’s appointment is lawful remains to be seen,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, noting that the appointment appears to sidestep the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. “Cuccinelli’s track record of anti-immigrant stances and statements is deeply troubling. In the end, we need unifying solutions and smart policy on immigration, not further polarization. Cuccinelli’s installation doesn’t bode well.”

Since losing a race for governor in 2013—during which he tried to obscure his record on immigration—Cuccinelli has become a mainstay in conservative media outlets, particularly after Trump’s election. Cuccinelli has called for militarizing the border, blocking all immigrants from Central America to discourage the formation of so-called “caravans,” and once came under scrutiny at CNN after a heated on-air exchange about immigration policy, in which he told contributor Ana Navarro that he was “sick and tired of listening to your shrill voice in my ears.”

Joining the administration in an official capacity is the final step in a long journey from the 2016 Republican primaries. Despite their like-mindedness on immigration, Cuccinelli backed Trump’s staunchest opponent, steering Sen. Ted Cruz’s longshot bid to unseat Trump as the party’s nominee by winning over delegates at the Republican National Convention. Cuccinelli famously threw his credentials to the convention floor in apparent disgust when the convention’s organizers refused to allow a floor vote to challenge Trump’s nomination.

“This is disgusting,” Cuccinelli said at the time.

DHS Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen to Tucker Carlson: Getting Rid of Birthright Citizenship Is ‘on the Table’

Reality will eventually catch up with virtue signalling given the 14th amendment:

Hours after President Trump declared he would “100 percent” close America’s southern border if he can’t make a deal with Congress on border security and immigration, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that eliminating birthright citizenship is “on the table” as a way to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants and asylum-seeking migrants.

Nielsen, who recently requested additional resources from Congress as border officials aim to quadruple the number of deportations of asylum seekers, appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight Tuesday evening to discuss the influx of Central American migrants at the southern border, and Carlson immediately began grilling her about what the administration was doing to “fix this.”

At times, it even seemed as if the Fox News host might be gunning for Nielsen’s job as he bombarded her with his own proposed solutions to the border crisis.

What about punishing employers “who are setting the bait in this trap, who are encouraging illegal aliens to come into this country?” he asked. (Interestingly, the president’s own businesses allegedly employed numerous undocumented workers—until they were caught by the press.)

“That is part of the problem,” Nielsen said, adding that steps are already being taken to address just that issue. “We’re looking to do everything we can throughout the system to apply penalties where we can,” she said.

Carlson was not satisfied with that answer. “Well how bout this, why wouldn’t your agency write an executive order, present it to the president, have him sign it and do it tomorrow?”

Nielsen went on to argue that “there’s a debate in Congress” regarding the executive branch on implementing an order like that, prompting Carlson to blast Congress while advocating for more direct executive actions.

“It looks like Congress is not going to act because one party has a vested interest in changing the population and the other party is, in effect, controlled by people who want illegal immigration,” Carlson asserted. “So would there be a downside for the president to act unilaterally on that question or, for example, birthright citizenship? Would you be willing to draft an executive order eliminating birthright citizenship?”

The Homeland Security chief responded that Trump has been clear that it is “all on the table” and he’s serious about shutting down the border.

“Yes, everything is on the table,” she reiterated.

Carlson, after noting that “things seem less under control now” at the border than before Trump was elected, asked later in the interview if the administration would send the military to the border since “it’s really a crisis of that magnitude.”

Nielsen said they “are looking into that” and have sent a request to the Department of Defense, causing Carlson to ask who is in charge and if it would be possible for the commander-in-chief to move “troops to the border tomorrow.”

Source: DHS Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen to Tucker Carlson: Getting Rid of Birthright Citizenship Is ‘on the Table’

‘Morally repugnant’: Homeland Security advisory council members resign over immigration policies

Less impact given appointees under the Obama administration:

Four members of a Homeland Security advisory council have resigned in protest over the Trump administration’s immigration policies, citing the “morally repugnant” practice of separating immigrant families at the border.

Richard Danzig, former secretary of the Navy in the Clinton administration, and Elizabeth Holtzman, a former Democratic congresswoman, were among the group that announced their resignation Monday in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

The group noted that the Department of Homeland Security did not consult its advisory council before implementing the policy, which separated more than 2,500 children until President Trump reversed his endorsement of the practice amid an international outcry and signed an order instructing the agency to stop doing so.

“Were we consulted, we would have observed that routinely taking children from migrant parents was morally repugnant, counter-productive and ill-considered,” the group wrote. “We cannot tolerate association with the immigration policies of this administration, nor the illusion that we are consulted on these matters.”

Two former Obama administration officials — David Martin, a former DHS deputy general counsel, and Matthew Olsen, who served as director of the National Counterterrorism Center — also signed the letter.

Bill Bratton, a former New York City police commissioner who is vice chairman of the advisory council, thanked the group for their service in an email reply, but he did not respond directly to the criticism.

“Each of you was appointed owing to lifelong dedication to the nation and her people, and, indeed, I can appreciate that each of you sees this resignation as part of that dedication,” Bratton wrote.

Tyler Houlton, a DHS spokesman, said it was “disappointing, but not surprising, that appointees from the previous Administration would resign.”

He added: “It is unfortunate that instead of first bringing their concerns directly to the Secretary in the spirit of an Advisory Committee member, they chose to simply resign four weeks after the Administration ended the practice of concern.”

Advisory council members are appointed by the homeland security secretary to two-year terms. After the resignations, there are 24 members, according to the DHS website. The council meets infrequently, usually no more than twice a year, and includes subcommittees to conduct research and recommendations on DHS policies.

The Trump administration began routinely separating immigrant families who did not have authorization to enter the United States under a new policy that aimed to criminally prosecute all adults who entered the country illegally. To do so, DHS officials said, the administration was required to take away minor children because U.S. law prevents them from being held in adult jails. The agency is struggling to reunite the children with their parents, despite a court order to do so.

In separate letters also sent to Nielsen, Martin and Holtzman also cited objections more broadly to the administration’s immigration policies, including an entry ban on immigrants from several majority-Muslim countries, the pursuit of billions of dollars for a border wall and Trump’s attempts to end a deferred action program for younger immigrants who have lived in the country illegally since they were children.

“These actions have fueled polarization, alienated state and local governments, and moved us much further from a sustainable, effective, and strategically sensible immigration enforcement program,” Martin wrote.

Holtzman, who like Martin was appointed by former DHS secretary Jeh Johnson during the Obama administration, wrote to Nielsen that under Trump, “DHS has been transformed into an agency that is making war on immigrants and refugees.”

In an interview, Holtzman said she did not believe the resignations would have an impact on Trump’s decision-making on immigration. But she added, “I do think it’s important for the American people to see that not everybody connected with the government is a brute, is a lawbreaker and that actually some of us do have a measure of conscience.”

Source: ‘Morally repugnant’: Homeland Security advisory council members resign over immigration policies

U.S. Is Trying to Counter ISIS’ Efforts to Lure Alienated Young Muslims – NYTimes.com

Good piece in the NY Times about US Government efforts to engage American Muslims in countering extremism, with some of the same issues that likely arise in Canada. The last line captures the conundrum:

American officials have been able to identify Americans fighting for the Islamic State or other Syrian rebel groups based on intelligence gathered from travel records, family members, intercepted electronic communications, social media postings and surveillance of Americans overseas who had expressed interest in going to Syria, counterterrorism officials said.

But efforts at countering violent extremism, especially at home, “have lagged badly behind other counterterrorism pillars,” said Michael Leiter, a former director of the National Counterterrorism Center. “It is heartening to see the administration attempt to invigorate those efforts, but it is unfortunate that it has, despite the efforts of many, been so long in coming.”

Government supporters question whether funds will be available to sustain these programs. “The administration has the right framework for doing this, but long-term success will depend on sustainable resourcing to help local government, communities and law enforcement build initiatives that can have impact,” said Quintan Wiktorowicz, a former senior White House aide who was one of the principal architects of the current strategy.

That strategy here at home, called countering violent extremism, has proved much more difficult for American officials to master than the ability of the Pentagon and spy agencies to identify, track, capture and, if necessary, kill terrorists overseas.

Among its efforts, the Department of Homeland Security provides training to help state and local law enforcement officials in identifying and countering the threat, including indicators of violent extremism and “lone wolf” attacks.

The department awarded the International Association of Chiefs of Police a $700,000 grant last year to develop training on how to prevent, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism.

The department has also sponsored exercises in seven cities, including Houston, Seattle, and Durham, N.C., to improve communication between local law enforcement and communities and to share ideas on how best to build community resilience against violent extremism. “We’re raising awareness,” said David Gersten, who was recently named the department’s coordinator for the overall effort.

Carter M. Stewart, the United States attorney in the Columbus area, said he and his staff meet regularly with Somali-American and other community leaders.

But Muslim advocates say there is deep suspicion that, despite all the meetings and the talk of outreach, the government’s main goal is to recruit informants to root out suspected terrorists.

“I don’t know how we can have a partnership with the same government that spies on you,” said Linda Sarsour, advocacy director for the National Network for Arab American Communities.

Indeed, those who met with Mr. Johnson were conflicted, some saying they were pleasantly surprised he had traveled here to put a face on the federal effort, but clearly embittered by their past experiences with the government.

Dr. Iyad Azrak, 37, a Syrian-American ophthalmologist, recounted how he and his family had been forced on numerous trips to Canada to wait for hours at border crossings while inspectors reviewed his records.

“Not once when we’re coming home do they say to me, ‘Welcome home,’ ” said Dr. Azrak, who said he has been a naturalized citizen for six years.

U.S. Is Trying to Counter ISIS’ Efforts to Lure Alienated Young Muslims – NYTimes.com.

Extremist ‘foreign fighters’ may threaten Canada: U.S. top official | Ottawa Citizen

Short reference to outreach programs during the visit of the head of Homeland Secruity,  Jeh Johnson:

Johnson said that in addition to a military mission to crush ISIL in the Middle East, and an intelligence strategy to track foreign fighters, the U.S. is conducting an “outreach” program in U.S. Islamic communities. That program is designed to prevent people from being fooled into recruitment by ISIL’s “slick” propaganda.

“ISIL is a stateless group of depraved criminals —rapists, kidnappers, killers and terrorists who control a territory,” he said. “There is no religion, including Islam and there is no God, including Allah, that would condone ISIL’s violent tactics.”

Extremist ‘foreign fighters’ may threaten Canada: U.S. top official | Ottawa Citizen.

Lorne Gunter, true to form in the Toronto Sun, rails against political correctness in describing ISIS as not Islamic, and implicitly casting a slur on all Muslims as well as political leaders:

Western civilization won’t be defeated by economic collapse or government debt, by an external military force or even its own internal decadence. But it could well be done in by political correctness.

It’s bad enough that U.S. President Barack Obama could stand bare-faced in front of his nation two weeks ago and insist the Islamic State terror group “is not Islamic.”

Huh!? Islam is in their name and behind every murderous, brutal, barbarous act ISIS commits.

There are imams and Muslim scholars who would argue that ISIS is, in fact, the very epitome of Islamic faith put into action. It is possible to debate that those Muslim leaders and ISIS itself are wrong in their interpretation of Islam.

But to insist to the world that ISIS “is not Islamic” is the equivalent of standing in front of a red wall and insisting it is green. It is contrary to what is plainly, clearly, obviously true.

Not sure what I am missing but there seems to be a lot, understandably, talk about Islam-inspired extremism and fanaticism these days.

Why can’t we talk about Muslim fanatics?