Ken Cuccinelli, a former attorney general of Virginia, has been tapped to be the acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security, which makes him second in command of the department.
Cuccinelli is widely seen as an immigration hawk, frequently defending the policies of President Donald Trump’s administration, including the crackdown on illegal immigration and support for Congress tightening up loopholes in asylum law.
Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf announced his decision to promote Cuccinelli in an email to employees.
"Ken Cuccinelli has been a constant and vocal advocate for the men and women of the Department who are protecting our borders and restoring integrity to our immigration system," Wolf said in the email, according to CBS.
The appointment received criticism from Democrats. In a news release, the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, said that Cuccinelli is unqualified for the job.
“It seems that President [Donald] Trump just couldn’t fight the urge to play to his base by elevating Ken Cuccinelli to another senior leadership position at DHS that he is wholly unqualified for,” Thompson said. “Mr. Cuccinelli is nothing more than an anti-immigrant fringe figure and Trump sycophant. The fact that the President installed someone who is unable to be confirmed by the Senate for any position and cannot legally serve as Acting Secretary shows his reckless regard for democratic norms and the law. This is clearly a legally questionable appointment.”
Cuccinelli was promoted shortly after Wolf was sworn in. Wolf was confirmed by the Senate in a 54-41 vote.