Senate votes to confirm key Trump immigration official
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The Senate cleared a key immigration pick on Thursday as debate over the issue heats up on Capitol Hill. 

Senators voted 54-43 to confirm Lee Francis Cissna as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

Democratic Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyBiden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Showdown: Trump-Biden debate likely to be nasty MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampMajor unions back Fudge for Agriculture secretary Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' in new administration MORE (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines Bipartisan, bicameral group unveils 8 billion coronavirus proposal MORE (W.Va.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMcCaskill: 'Hypocrisy' for GOP to target Biden nominee's tweets after Trump Democrats must turn around Utah police arrest man driving 130 mph claiming he was going to kill former Missouri senator MORE (Mo.) — who are all up for reelection next year — voted for his nomination.

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USCIS is the agency in charge of granting visas, residency and other permits for foreign citizens to enter, visit, live and work in the United States. 

Cissna cleared the Judiciary Committee in May with only two Democratic senators voting against him.

At the time, the White House blasted Democrats for holding up a slew of nominees, including Cissna. But it was GOP Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisRep. Mark Walker announces Senate bid in North Carolina Grassley returns to Capitol after having coronavirus McConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge MORE (R-N.C.) who further delayed Cissna’s nomination by subjecting him to a “hold” — which allows one senator to effectively block a nomination from being scheduled for a vote — as he pushed the Department of Homeland Security to clear additional H-2B visas. 

“Several senators, including Sen. Tillis, have concerns with DHS’ timeline because it would negatively impact seasonal small businesses and American workers across the nation this summer,” a spokesman for the senator told The Washington Times in July

The visas are given to seasonal nonagricultural workers. 

Immigration groups also urged the Senate to reject Cissna, arguing he would help advance President Trump's “cruel policies targeting immigrants” and that he provided “technical assistance” on Trump's immigration executive orders. 

The letter, signed by more than 300 groups, also references a ProPublica report that Cissna helped draft letters while working for Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyCriminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot Capitol physician advises lawmakers against attending dinners, receptions during COVID-19 spike Congress ends its year under shadow of COVID-19 MORE’s (R-Iowa) office “criticizing USCIS for implementing various humanitarian programs and initiatives.” 

They added that if senators didn’t reject Cissna, they should “at the very least” hold up his nomination until Congress and the White House “implement a permanent legislative solution to address the temporary nature of DACA.” 

The administration announced last month that it would phase out the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Lawmakers are struggling to come up with a plan amid competing demands from conservative House members and Democrats.