WASHINGTON — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s very concerned about the Trump administration purging some of the nation’s top immigration officials at Homeland Security.
Grassley, a Republican, says several people have reportedly been targeted for firing, including Lee Francis Cissna, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a man Grassley says he knows well. “Mr. Cissna and a coworker of his in policy, Kathy Kovarik, they all worked with me, Kathy for 17 years,” Grassley says. “I know their qualifications. I know how well they’re working.”
Kovarik is a Le Mars native and had worked in Grassley’s office until being appointed as Chief of the Office of Policy and Strategy for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Grassley says they’re both “good public servants” and he fears they’re on the White House list for being terminated. “These people work hard to enforce the law,” Grassley says. “They have opinions on immigration that are very similar to the president’s.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned Sunday after a private meeting with the president. Last week, the Trump administration reversed itself and pulled the nomination of Ronald Vitiello for the position of director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Reports say Homeland Security’s general counsel, John Mitnick, is also on the way out. Grassley is worried still more qualified people will be let go. “The president acts a lot on impulse. They act on carrying out the law and giving an intellectual rationale on what the president wants to accomplish,” Grassley says. “I think it would be wrong to get rid of them and we’ve heard that they were going to get rid of them.”
Grassley says it’s not because he knows these individuals and wants to help them, “but to make sure that the president has a rational immigration policy.”