Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) may be quietly pulling back on immigration issues as his party rapidly moves towards the center on reform.
The Washington Post’s editorial board noted on Wednesday that Cuccinelli, who is running for governor in this year’s race, had scrubbed his website of its old “issues” page on immigration, among other areas like abortion and guns. The site recently boasted how he “Voted consistently against in-state tuition for illegal aliens,” stepped up deportations, and led crackdowns on the hiring of undocumented workers. Cuccinelli’s campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.
Cuccinelli has taken a conservative tack on immigration as attorney general. In 2010, he issued an opinion affirming police authority to check the legal status of suspects they arrest and joined an amicus brief defending Arizona’s SB 1070 law, which immigration advocates consider one of the harshest in the country, from legal challenges. As a state senator he backed a bill that wouldn’t just block illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition at Virginia colleges and universities, it would have prevented them from attending at all.
More recently, Cuccinelli attracted attention when he called into a morning radio show and, during a discussion of pest control policy, likened rats and raccoons to families of illegal immigrants.
GOP leaders have been moving left in recent months on immigration. On Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who — like Cuccinelli — is a popular figure among tea party activists, came out in support of a reform bill that includes an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.