Head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Lee Francis Cissna will step down from his post on June 1 at President Donald Trump’s request, according to an Associated Press report.
Cissna let staff know that next week would be his last, according to an email given to the AP. “During the past 20 months, every day, I have passionately worked to carry out USCIS’ mission to faithfully administer the nation’s lawful immigration system,” Cissna wrote to staff.
Trump’s Growing Frustration With DHS
His departure adds to a growing list of over a dozen vacancies in the Department of Homeland Services, including DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who was ousted last month. Trump has filled some of the positions with temporary staff, but Cissna’s job requires Senate confirmation.
Trump has reportedly been frustrated about DHS’s failure to slow the tide of illegal immigrants crossing the border. Cissna was expected to be fired last month along with Neilsen, but top Republicans in Congress including Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who worked with Cissna for years, spoke up for his record and bought him more time.
That time has apparently run out, however, as aides reported that they didn’t think Cissna was moving fast enough to change regulations governing border policy that would tighten immigration rules.
Cissna reported just two weeks ago that he was training dozens of new border patrol agents to screen asylum seekers at the border, and he seemed to be moving forward after Neilsen’s departure until this week, when Trump decided to ask him to quit.
It was not known what Cissna’s next steps would be after leaving DHS, according to the Washington Examiner. In speaking to staff, he gave no indication about a move to another department or position inside or outside the government.
As for his position at Citizenship and Immigration, no announcement has been made about his replacement, either. The Trump administration announced that former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli would join the agency, but did not say what his position would be.
Cuccinelli has previously been in favor of denying citizenship to the American-born children of illegal immigrants. He has also advocated limiting in-state tuition at public universities to citizens or legal residents only.
An April Politico report had suggested that former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform Julie Kirchner might be under consideration for the job, but Trump has not confirmed this controversial pick. FAIR is considered a hate group by the left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center because of its anti-immigration views.
It is clear that immigration rules are being exploited by those crossing the border, including more than 3,000 cases of fraud involving adults posing as parents of children while crossing the border even though it was found that they are not actually related to the children.
Many trying to cross the border are also claiming asylum even though they come from countries further south but did not try to claim asylum in Mexico. Although it may not be popular with Democrats to change long-standing rules around immigration, Trump has to do whatever it takes to turn off the migration faucet and secure the border.