Ken Cuccinelli, President Donald Trump’s likely pick for a senior position at the Department of Homeland Security, previously told Breitbart.com that states could invoke “war powers” against migrants crossing the U.S. southern border because “it’s an invasion.” He added that doing so would mean “there’s no due process” and states could “point them back across the river and let them swim for it.”
Trump is reportedly set to hire Cuccinelli, a former CNN commentator and Virginia attorney general, to a senior position at DHS, where he would coordinate immigration policy. Media Matters recently documented Cuccinelli’s long anti-LGBTQ record. Cuccinelli also has a history of pushing anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, including comparing undocumented immigrants to rats and opposing birthright citizenship.
One of his most extreme anti-immigrant positions came out on the October 23, 2018, edition of Breitbart News Daily, the radio show of the right-wing website that has pushed white nationalist propaganda. (Breitbart.com documented the appearance at the time, but Cuccinelli’s comments have largely gone unnoticed.) Cuccinelli discussed the migrant caravan that was approaching the U.S. southern border. Right-wing media and Republicans frequently fear-mongered about the supposed threat of the caravan in the run-up to the 2018 election as a way to drum up votes.
During that appearance, Cuccinelli suggested that states could constitutionally enter into war with the migrant caravan because “we’ve been being invaded for a long time and so the border states clearly qualify here to utilize this power themselves.”
If they did so, “because they’re acting under war powers, there’s no due process,” Cuccinelli said. “They can literally just line their National Guard up with, presumably with riot gear like they would if they had a civil disturbance and turn people back at the border.”
“You just point them back across the river and let them swim for it,” he later added.
Cuccinelli also expanded on his argument for why the migrant caravan is supposedly an invading force, stating: “When someone comes across your border without your permission, it’s an invasion. Their purpose here is to violate the border, to violate our sovereignty, for their own purposes. That’s an invasion.” He later agreed with host Matt Boyle’s suggestion that the migrant caravan is acting like an “army” and suggested the caravan could be infiltrated by terrorists (in reality, there’s no evidence there were terrorists in the caravan).
The Washington Post recently reported that “in a sign of sensitivity to criticisms from immigration hard-liners,” the president’s “advisers are looking at measures behind the scenes such as the Insurrection Act, an arcane law that allows the president to employ the military to combat lawlessness or rebellion, to remove illegal immigrants.”