Photo © Gage Skidmore

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is now officially the acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Trump administration announced on Monday.

By tagging Cuccinelli with the ‘acting’ label instead of naming him the permanent director of the agency, Trump avoids a Senate confirmation hearing for a nominee who has drawn the ire of both parties.

Cuccinelli has long clashed with establishment Republicans and he once advocated for the removal of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his leadership team, according to the Associated Press. But he has been a vocal supporter of President Trump’s hardline immigration agenda, and once compared immigration policy to rat extermination.

Cuccinelli’s extreme views on immigration also worry Republican Senators and are a non-starter for Democrats.

Republican sources told the AP that the White House was made aware that Cuccinelli would have a tough time being confirmed by the Senate, and it now appears as if Trump is trying to avoid a confirmation hearing altogether.

Cuccinelli had previously been expected to fill a role as Trump’s ‘immigration czar’ or become Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, but is instead replacing Lee Francis Cissna, the outgoing director of Citizenship and Immigration Services who President Trump forced out.

The decision to put Cuccinelli in charge of the nation’s legal immigration system comes as Trump has doubled down on his anti-immigration agenda. Just this week, Trump used the threat of tariffs to pressure Mexico into agreeing to a significant crackdown on Central American migrants fleeing brutal gang violence and poverty.

Trump has long vilified illegal immigrants and attempted to curb all forms of immigration, and with Cuccinelli now in charge of the country’s legal immigration system, advocates worry that the Trump administration’s immigration policies will only grow more extreme.

Photo © Gage Skidmore