Ryan Fahey, Daily Mail, October 17, 2019
US President Donald Trump’s top immigration spokesman has suggested that the amount of illegal immigrants in the country could be double the most cited previous estimates.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Wednesday that there could be 22 million people living illegally in the United States.
The director of the department, which administers the US naturalization and immigration process, used a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which doubles the ‘widely accepted’ estimate of 11.3 million.
The number of undocumented migrants is difficult to quantify, as individuals generally avoid situations where they could be counted. Yet, typical estimates range from between 11 and 14 million.
Cuccinelli, however, said it would be wise to work around the larger number.
‘That’s the one I know. I just use it as a reference point. Because from an operational standpoint, it doesn’t matter too much,’ he said during a Christian Science Monitor event in Washington.
‘We deal with what’s in front of us. So that’s the perspective that I bring to it. It’s useful to know. It’s an important thing at a 100,000-foot level.’
He also spoke about demands of Democratic House members who would like to give amnesty to 800,000 young illegal immigrants.
‘They are here illegally,’ Cucinelli said.
‘They are in the same pool, if MIT is correct, with the 22 million people who are here illegally.’
Cucinelli is widely seen as Trump’s top pick for the new Director of Homeland Security.
He and the president appear to agree on an ever-tightening immigration policy.
‘In terms of pursuing the president’s agenda, we’ve been doing a good job at USCIS [US Citizenship and Immigration Services],’ Cuccinelli said.
‘That’s what I would ask those folks to be judging me on.’
The president stands adamant on his restrictive immigration policy and still calls for a wall to prevent immigrants from Mexico breaching the border.
According to the immigration page on the White House website:
‘The United States must adopt an immigration system that serves the national interest.
‘To restore the rule of law and secure our border, President Trump is committed to constructing a border wall and ensuring the swift removal of unlawful entrants.
‘To protect American workers, the President supports ending chain migration, eliminating the Visa Lottery, and moving the country to a merit-based entry system.
‘These reforms will advance the safety and prosperity of all Americans while helping new citizens assimilate and flourish.
During the event Cuccinelli went on to further align himself with Trump’s immigration values:
‘The president has made no secret of the fact that he believes the American immigration system, first and foremost, is set up to work for America.
‘That means economically and for the people here, and to do that, we put out invitations and offerings to people from around the world, along the lines that Congress puts in the law.
‘There is a lot of pressure in various sectors to utilize more immigrant labor for employment, whether it’s high tech or low tech – various parts of the economy….
‘I would say that really the long-term solution for that isn’t on the horizon until the immigration reform that the president has talked about passes, and we restructure our immigration system to prioritize … the employment side of immigration.’