Chad Wolf was sworn in on Wednesday as the new acting secretary of Homeland Security, and announced that acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli will serve as his deputy – a move that supporters of the stronger immigration measures.
"I sincerely thank the president for trusting me to serve in this incredibly important position," Wolf wrote in an email to staff obtained by Fox News.
Wolf, who previously served as chief of staff to former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, swore hours after the Senate confirmed him as the first under secretary for policy, a role he would not serve but a requirement legal hurdle for him to take the top job in a temporary capacity. He replaces Kevin McAleenan, who was taken from Nielsen to an acting capacity in April and submitted his resignation last month.
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In his email, Wolf called McAleenan "one of the strongest advocates for the department" and said " his appreciation for the workers and commitment to the mission are evident in all he has done. "
He also announced that Cuccinelli, one of the most vocal hardliners within the administration and a person flagged as a possible successor to McAleenan, would take over as deputy secretary.
"Ken Cuccinelli has been a consistent and vocal advocate for the men and women of the department who protect our borders and restore integrity to our immigration system," Wolf wrote. "As a Virginia attorney general he leads the state in fighting human trafficking and records enforcement against gangs, frauds and child predators."
In a statement on Wednesday, Cuccinelli said he was pleased to take on the role at DHS. A USCIS spokesman said Deputy Director Mark Koumans will now serve as acting director.
"I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to continue to be a voice for the men and women of this department. With nearly a quarter of a million employees and a mission that ranges from border security and immigration enforcement to cybersecurity and emergency response, DHS will be charged with some of the most critical work in the government, "Cuccinelli said. "It has been a privilege to lead the USCIS workforce in recent months in faithfully managing our country's legal immigration system and I look forward to continuing to work with them." , has become one of the favorites among immigration hawks to lead the department. As acting director of USCIS, he pushed for a series of tough immigration measures including "public billing" ̵1; which would further guide the rules on whether immigrants can be welfare-minded should be given green cards. – an act that scares many Democratic activists and immigrants.
He also faced opposition from Republicans who were dissatisfied with his earlier leadership of the Senate Conservatives Fund – a group seeking to sit with senators against more conservative primary challengers.
stance on illegal immigration and lowering general immigration numbers backed Cuccinelli while expressing concern about Wolf. They cited his previous role as a lobbyist for companies seeking to protect the H-1B visa program.
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RJ Hauman, head of government relations at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), said he had carefully optimized the Wolf's appointment, with optimism reinforced by Cuccinelli's announcement.
"With the help of Chad Wolf, DHS has done a hell of a job illegally. Immigration front in recent months," Hauman told Fox News. "However, there is still much to be done when it comes to protecting American workers through the issuance of administrative rules."
"As the new acting leader of DHS, Wolf must never reward the American lobby's business intelligence vision to maximize profits," Hauman said. "We are engaged and the American people will be on guard."
Some members of the administration gave Wolf a glowing recommendation. An senior administration official told Fox News last month that he was a "huge asset" to DHS and the president's agenda.
"He is widely recognized as a trustworthy, committed and aggressive leader, credited with assisting in the implementation of border-crisis policies," the official said. "His expertise has wrapped up the entire department and on a number of issues, from counterterrorism to election security. It is down to the most qualified."
Democrats, however, criticized Wolf's appointment from in another direction, accusing him of behind some of what they call immigration policies that the Trump administration has not experienced in his past work on DHS.
"" By confirming Chad Wolf, @SenateGOP rewarded a man who stands up to @ realDonaldTrump's most immoral and anti-American policies: family separation, Muslim prohibition, and the unlawful national emergency declaration, "Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, tweets. "He must have no place in our government."
Wolf's appointment came as the Trump administration, despite a lack of permanent leadership at the top of the DHS, marking a series of victories in the fight against the migrant crisis in the southern border.
In particular, it has seen border security concerns rise more than 65 percent since May, as it tightened asylum policies, built more border infrastructure and secured a series of settlement agreements. Countries like Mexico and El Salvador to break down migrant flows.
Wolf referred to those implementations in his email to staff.
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"DHS, especially the men and women at the front of the crisis line, successfully address this challenge and change the dynamics on the border. But we must remain cautious and resolute in order to stay ahead of the threats and restore integrity to our immigration system, "he wrote.
He also reminded staff that "we must never forget the other threats facing our homeland – from preparing for and responding to natural disasters, to protecting victims of trafficking and exploitation, to intensifying our mission of counterterrorism and the rising threat of domestic terrorism, to ensure the coming election of 2020 – the Department must remain in position and daring to face many threats daily. ”
The Fox News & # 39; Brooke Singman contributed to this report.