President Trump is expected to name Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a former attorney general of Virginia and an immigration hard-liner, as his choice to coordinate the administration’s immigration policies, a White House official confirmed on Tuesday.
The specifics of the role — including the title and the scope of duties — are still being hashed out, according to the official. But Mr. Cuccinelli is expected to be based in the Department of Homeland Security, not in the White House.
Mr. Cuccinelli met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office on Monday, along with nearly a dozen other administration officials, including Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security. By Monday evening, Mr. Cuccinelli had begun placing calls to people to alert them that he was expected to get the job, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The formal appointment could come as soon as this week, officials said.
Mr. Cuccinelli served as attorney general from 2010 to 2014, running unsuccessfully for governor of Virginia in 2013. He is a frequent presence on cable news, which Mr. Trump consumes with gusto. He is aligned with Mr. Trump on issues related to border security, though he caught the president’s attention during the 2016 presidential primaries, when he led the effort to strip Mr. Trump of delegates on behalf of an opponent, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a person close to the president said.
Mr. Trump has been considering creating an immigration “czar” post for months, with Mr. Cuccinelli and Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, as his top choices. But Mr. Kobach was always seen within the White House as unlikely to get the role, and he put off Mr. Trump and some of his advisers with a list of 10 “requirements” he had for the job, including access to a government jet 24 hours a day, weekends off with his family in Kansas, and a promise to be nominated for Mr. McAleenan’s job by November if he wanted it.
Other questions remain about how Mr. Cuccinelli will navigate relationships within the administration at a time when Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his senior adviser, Stephen Miller, are jockeying for influence on immigration policy. Mr. Miller, whose positions are more aligned with Mr. Cuccinelli’s than Mr. Kushner’s on the issue, is said to be supportive of the choice.
Mr. McAleenan, who was named acting secretary for homeland security after the resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen, is known as a stern career law enforcement official who has respect from both Democrats and Republicans. He previously served as commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.
While he carried out Mr. Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy, which led to family separations, he has also backed aid to Central American countries and has acknowledged many migrants are fleeing gang violence and poverty. Rather than describing migrants as criminals on his television appearances, he has frequently emphasized his fear that more migrant children will die in federal custody. Three migrant children have died in the custody of Customs and Border Protection since December.