WASHINGTON — Virginia’s Democratic senators are concerned, but not necessarily surprised, that President Donald Trump is expected to hire former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for a top immigration post.
Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that the former Virginia attorney general is expected to coordinate the administration’s immigration efforts. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Cuccinelli will work at the Department of Homeland Security in a senior role.
Asked about the expected appointment on Thursday, Sen. Tim Kaine told the Virginia Mercury, “I think he has demonstrated a degree of xenophobia that’s not going to be helpful, but frankly, it’s what we get out of this administration on immigration.”
Kaine added, “I don’t think this president wants a solution [on immigration], I think he wants a political talking point, and adding Cuccinelli to the team does not suggest he wants a solution.”
Warner told the Mercury he’s “very concerned” about Cuccinelli’s “history of being extraordinarily restrictive on immigration. He has been consistently one of the most hardliners. … My concern is that he doesn’t have an approach about comprehensive immigration reform, which is I think the only way we’re going to fix this problem.”
As Virginia’s attorney general in 2012, Cuccinelli sided with Arizona in a lawsuit in which President Barack Obama’s administration sued the state over a law aimed at boosting police’s ability to enforce federal immigration laws, USA Today reported. Cuccinelli also wrote a legal opinion stating that Virginia police could ask people they stopped about their immigration status.
Several Virginia Democrats in the U.S. House were also furious about Cuccinelli’s likely appointment
Virginia Republicans have kept largely quiet. Even within his own party, Cuccinelli is something of loose cannon, leading a fruitless effort to deny Trump the nomination in 2016 and backing a primary challenge to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.