The U.S. Senate voted 54-43 Thursday to confirm Lee Francis Cissna as the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Four Democrats joined Republicans in supporting President Donald Trump’s nominee, who will now oversee the agency responsible for many of the country’s immigration programs, including processing applications for work visas and residency permits.
Cissna previously served as the Director of Immigration Policy in the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Policy and as an aide to Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican. Cissna worked on Grassley’s staff when Grassley proposed the H-1B and L-1B Visa Reform Act of 2015, a bill that would have required employers to attest that they would not replace U.S. workers with H-1B or L-1 workers and would have placed a 50 percent limit on the combined H-1B and L-1 workforce for employers with 50 or more employees.
Cissna’s confirmation was delayed by Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, who put a hold on the confirmation as he pushed DHS to make more H-2B work visas available. Cissna’s nomination was opposed by immigrants’ rights organizations, who said that the Senate at least should have held off on a vote until Congress and the Trump administration developed a permanent solution on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Work on long-term DACA legislation continues, but nothing has been finalized.