Monday, July 31, 2017

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE CONFIRMATION OF THE NEW USCIS DIRECTOR?

In April Pres. Trump nominated Lee Francis Cissna to be the Director of the USCIS. USCIS is a sub-agency of the Department of Homeland Security. USCIS is tasked with processing immigration applications and petitions. The Director normally reports directly to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Because it is such an important position, any nomination for USCIS Director requires confirmation by the Senate.

Three months have now passed since the Cissna nomination. Although the President has complained loudly about Senate Democrats holding up confirmations, that does not seem to be the case with Mr. Cissna's nomination. 

In mid-May, Pro Publica reported that Mr. Cissna had spent much of the last few years ghost-writing letters on behalf of Sen. Grassley (R-IA).  These letters were aimed at dismantling much of Pres. Obama’s immigration policies. 
On May 31, Mr. Cissna testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Three hundred immigration stakeholders have since pushed the administration to withdraw Mr. Cissna’s nomination.

Mr. Cissna’s confirmation hold-up does not entirely appear to be about the Cissna policies raised by Pro Publica. In fact, the confirmation hold-up was a leverage play by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC). Senate custom allows a single Senator to delay a 
confirmation

Why did Sen. Tills delay Cissna's confirmation?  Sen. Tillis wanted an increase of H-2B visas, which are temporary visas used in seasonal occupations. North Carolina uses more H-2B visas than 47 other states, trailing only Texas and Colorado. In mid-July, the President caved into Sen. Tillis’ demands and released an additional 15,000 H-2B visas. Only then did Sen. Tillis agree to lift his hold on the confirmation.

Yet Mr. Cissna’s confirmation continues to sit. Right-wing media, who are fans of Mr. Cissna’s views, are ramping up the pressure on the GOP Senate to move forward.

Because the Cissna nomination is still stuck, questions remain: Is Mr. Cissna going to be confirmed before the August recess? Is his delay more about him or more about the Senate’s packed schedule? Will the forthcoming DHS Secretary withdraw Mr. Cissna and want to appoint his own candidate? We should know a lot between now and the recess.

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