DHS deputy Cuccinelli: 'Activist judges' trying to block Trump immigration agenda

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said Monday that "activist judges" on the lower courts are continually blocking President Trump's immigration agenda.

Cuccinelli reacted on "Fox & Friends" to Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor issuing a scathing dissent to the court's decision to allow the Trump administration to enforce its "public charge" rule in Illinois, limiting which non-citizens can obtain visas to enter the U.S.

Sotomayor's problems with the conservative majority's ruling went far beyond that single case. She claimed that it was symptomatic of the court's habit of siding with the government when they seek emergency stays of rulings against them.

"It is hard to say what is more troubling: that the Government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the Court would grant it," Sotomayor wrote in her dissent.


Cuccinelli defended the public charge rule, arguing that the Supreme Court overall "is saying these lower courts are inappropriately using injunctions to block this administration's policy."

"So [Sotomayor] is sort of hitting it with a bank shot and she's missing the target that the Supreme Court has hit. And that's activist judges at the lower courts that are trying to block this president's agenda," he said, explaining that the high court has been "systematically" reversing lower court injunctions against the policy all over the U.S.

"And so this is the third time, if you count the wall and the Remain in Mexico program dating back to September of last year, where the Supreme Court has stepped in and either in word or deed told these lower courts, you're being too activist, this isn't outside the law and you need to let the case run its course. So all of those injunctions were lifted. And so today, the public charge rule will go into effect all across the country," said Cuccinelli, arguing that it is not intended to be a "moral judgment on individuals."

"It is an economic one and we expect in America, as we have for over 140 years, that people seeking to be long-term immigrants here and maybe join us as citizens will be able to stand on their own two feet," he added.


The case, Wolf v. Cook County, deals with the Trump administration's expansion of situations where the government can deny visas to non-citizens looking to enter the U.S. Federal law already says that officials can take into account whether an applicant is likely to become a "public charge," which government guidance has said refers to someone "primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.”

In the past, non-cash benefits such as forms of Medicaid and certain housing assistance did not count, but the Department of Homeland Security issued its new public charge rule in 2019 which did include these benefits.

Fox News' Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.