On Saturday, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported that Ken Cuccinelli, President Donald Trump’s acting Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, helped found a virulently anti-immigrant group called “State Legislators for Legal Immigration” in 2007.
The principle claim of State Legislators for Legal Immigration was that undocumented immigrants effectively were the same thing as an act of war by a foreign country, and should be responded to as such. The group blasted such immigrants as “invaders” responsible for “serious infectious diseases, drug running, gang violence, human trafficking, [and] terrorism.”
Cuccinelli, who previously served as the attorney general of Virginia and was the GOP nominee for governor in 2013, proudly cited his involvement with this group in his early runs for office, and parroted much of its rhetoric. In a speech in 2014, he suggested that then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry had the constitutional right to forge international treaties and exercise war powers because his state was being occupied by an invading force of immigrants:
Cuccinelli has largely used the same rhetoric as the group – in a 2014 speech he said rush of unaccompanied minors at the border was an invasion that gave then- Texas Gov. Rick Perry the right to enter treaties and wage war under the Constitution. https://t.co/AcdEMak3Hp pic.twitter.com/q88lSVyuI4
— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@KFILE) August 17, 2019
Cuccinelli has come under fire for defending the Trump administration’s new policy of barring visas to poor people by rewriting the poem on the Statue of Liberty to only include those “who can stand on their own two feet,” and saying that the original poem about “huddled masses” was really only talking about Europeans.
Trump and his supporters’ use of the term “invasion” to describe migrants and immigrants has been cited as playing a role in a resurgence of hate crimes and white nationalist violence across the country, one of the most recent cases being the deadly shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.