President Donald Trump is expected to name former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to a key immigration policy role at the Department of Homeland Security, according to multiple published reports.
The New York Times first reported the news, which additional outlets, including The Associated Press and The Washington Post, said they subsequently confirmed.
Cuccinelli, who could not immediately be reached for comment, is a conservative opponent of illegal immigration. He served as attorney general from 2010 to 2014 and narrowly lost Virginia’s 2013 election for governor to Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
Cuccinelli was at the White House on Monday, officials said. The hiring appears to come in response to Trump’s desire for an immigration “czar” to help coordinate border policies across agencies, officials said, although the job will be more limited in nature.
The hire comes as Trump is struggling with a migrant surge at the southern border that is straining federal resources. For months, DHS officials have discussed the need for a border crisis manager who would coordinate among the multiple federal agencies struggling to cope with an unprecedented surge of Central American migrant families.
In April, more than 100,000 migrants were taken into custody for the second consecutive month, and the numbers in May are on pace to go even higher.
Cuccinelli has in the past advocated for denying citizenship to the American-born children of parents living in the U.S. illegally.
In recent years Cuccinelli has headed a PAC that works to elect conservatives to the U.S. Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to block Cuccinelli from any Senate-confirmed post after Cuccinelli helped lead efforts in 2014 backing insurgent candidates that hurt the Senate GOP majority, McConnell advisers said.
Some in the administration fear that there will be too many power players fighting to wrest control over an immigration agenda — with White House adviser Stephen Miller already chafing officials at DHS.
One White House adviser said Cuccinelli is likely to advocate for the White House’s aggressive position at the agency. Miller has argued to Trump that others within DHS are trying to stall him.
While he has not served in political office in Virginia for five years, Cuccinelli has retained a presence in the state’s politics — particularly in his criticism of the state’s monopoly electric utilities.
He is a key figure in a newly announced coalition of libertarian and liberal groups that is angling to end Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power’s monopoly on the retail electricity market throughout Virginia. The coalition launched its work publicly at a news conference May 7.
During the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, Cuccinelli was a key backer of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a rival to Trump.
Cuccinelli represented Fairfax County in the state Senate from 2002 to 2010.