Immigration chief spars with Missouri lawmaker over ‘medical deferred-action’ policy

‘How cruel!’ Rep. Clay responds to Cuccinelli’s testimony

Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., during a House Oversight subcommittee hearing Wednesday on the administration’s policy towards foreigners in the U.S. with serious illnesses. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services faced tough questions from several members of the House Oversight and Reform hearing Wednesday on the agency’s since-reversed decision to end granting foreign nationals with serious medical conditions the temporary ability to stay in the country.

Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., used his allotted five minutes to ask Ken Cuccinelli if he had heard about several cases interest groups had brought to the agency’s attention. Clay characterized them as “truly heartbreaking.” 

The agency head responded “No,” explaining that the agency does not “look at particular cases when making a procedural decision like that.”

After the congressman went over another case, this time about a child in a neonatal intensive care unit, and Cuccinelli repeated his answer, Clay asked him, “So you don’t care?” The former Virginia Attorney general replied, “You bet I care.” Speaking over the congressman he continued, “If you cared enough to pass a law, we’d enforce it.”