Federal Judge Rules That USCIS Leader Cuccinelli Was Unlawfully Appointed

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Trump Administration failed to follow procedures set forth under federal law in appointing Ken Cuccinelli to a leadership role in US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in 2019. As a result, two rule changes to the asylum process implemented under his leadership should be considered nullified, according to the judge.

Pursuant to the court’s ruling, Cuccinelli’s appointment violated a law called the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. At the time of his appointment, his title was principal deputy director, though he reportedly began performing the duties of “acting director” without a formal nomination. After assuming his role at USCIS, Cuccinelli issued directives reducing the amount of time during which asylum-seekers could consult others before their credible fear interviews, and prohibiting most asylum seekers from obtaining extensions of time to prepare for those interviews. The Trump administration plans to appeal the court’s ruling┬áthat those policies should be invalidated.

Additional Reading

Memorandum Opinion and Order, L.M.-M. et al. v. Cuccinelli et al., filed March 1, 2020, via Justia Dockets

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