Being an immigration hard liner has been the hallmark of Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency. In fact, it is likely the explicitly racist, dehumanizing, and cruel anti-immigrant terms in which Trump has spoken regarding this issue that helped usher him into the White House. After all, much of Trump’s base is aging white men who sincerely fear a changing America in which they – and thus, their vision for the nation – are no longer a dominating force.
Talk of a minority white nation, acceptance for LGBTQ people and religious minorities, more women in positions of power, and increasing diversity and acceptance in general definitely played a role in Trump’s election. He promised his base that if they put him in the Oval Office, all the Muslims would be banned, and the military would build a great wall to keep all the brown people out – and Mexico would pay for it to boot. Trump supporters heard this message loud and clear, and they heeded the call of the wannabe authoritarian who promised to single-handedly give them the America they fear is slipping quickly away from them back in all its glowing glory.
There is something much more sinister than Trump’s bigoted dog-whistling and his base’s fears being assuaged going on here, though. Trump simply said on the campaign trail what he knew his supporters wanted to hear. However, he had not a clue as to how to bring his promises to fruition. There was someone who had been waiting and working his whole life, though, to make the dreams of Trump supporters a reality: Immigration Policy Adviser Stephen Miller.
Despite being of Jewish descent and from a family of immigrants himself, Stephen Miller is pretty much an open white nationalist. He has said that he would, quote “be happy if not a single refugee” came to the United States, according to an Ex-Trump aide familiar with the remarks. Miller also is the main driving force behind the family separation policy that has sparked so much bipartisan backlash. When the policy originated, he did an interview with the New York Times, who reported Miller’s thinking on the matter thusly:
“No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement,” he said during an interview in his West Wing office this past week. “It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”
… Privately, Mr. Miller argued that bringing back “zero tolerance” would be a potent tool in a severely limited arsenal of strategies for stopping migrants from flooding across the border … And in April, after the border numbers reached their zenith, Mr. Miller was instrumental in Mr. Trump’s decision to ratchet up the zero tolerance policy.
And those are just a couple of recent examples of Miller’s feelings on immigrants. His contempt for any number of groups of people goes back decades, though – to his days as a political agitator as a high schooler in California. In a now-viral video, Miller can be heard showing utter contempt for custodial workers, sneering that they should “pick up [his] trash” during a campaign speech for student office. Here is that clip:
Here’s video of Trump Advisor Stephen Miller in high school screaming he’s “sick and tired of being told to pick up my trash, when we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us.” Would be a shame if it went viral… again. pic.twitter.com/cpoSGAdOGv
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) April 9, 2019
Of course, people who hate rarely do so in one direction, and it is entirely likely that the 33-year-old Miller associated LatinX people with custodial positions or other forms of honest work that he deems to be beneath him. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Miller also spent his youth harassing his classmates of color -specifically those of Hispanic descent – and writing racist screeds in the school paper during his time at Duke University. Helping to cement Miller’s hateful views was his acquaintanceship with alt-right leader Richard Spencer of the white nationalist National Policy Institute – yes, the same man who celebrated Trump’s electoral victory by leading a crowd of white supremacists in a “Heil Trump!” chant, complete with Nazi salutes:
So, yes, there is plenty of evidence in Stephen Miller’s past to show that he is a white nationalist who wants to purge the nation of all non-white people. To understand how we got to where we are with regards to the cruelty of America’s current immigration policies – from the Muslim ban to the family separation with children in cages and everything else – one must understand Stephen Miller. What is in this article is just a sampling of what this man is capable of, which is what makes him so dangerous. He has Trump’s ear, and he has the political knowledge to put some of the most cruel policies imaginable into place.
The sad thing is, though, Miller did not grow up being taught this kind of hate. He grew up in a liberal state – California – in a liberal home. His family story is one of Jewish immigrants. In fact, Miller’s uncle, David S. Glosser, penned a piece in Politico just for the purpose of speaking out against his nephews views on immigration. Glosser calls Miller an “immigration hypocrite” and says their family would be “wiped out” if Miller’s views had been law 100 years ago. Glosser says in a plea to his nephew’s sense of family, and, indeed history:
“I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses— the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants — been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom. The Glossers came to the U.S. just a few years before the fear and prejudice of the “America first” nativists of the day closed U.S. borders to Jewish refugees. Had Wolf-Leib waited, his family likely would have been murdered by the Nazis along with all but seven of the 2,000 Jews who remained in Antopol. I would encourage Stephen to ask himself if the chanting, torch-bearing Nazis of Charlottesville, whose support his boss seems to court so cavalierly, do not envision a similar fate for him.”
The sad part is, Stephen Miller has likely read this piece. It has moved him not an inch. Whether he is simply an opportunist, a true ideological white nationalist, or just a cruel man who cares nothing for his fellow human beings matters not. What matters is that Stephen Miller is the vehicle through which Donald Trump’s most dangerously xenophobic fever dreams are being carried out, and as long as he is in charge of border policy, we should all be very afraid. To know Stephen Miller’s past and present actions and views in this direction is to know one terrifying future for the United States of America.
Featured image via Donkey Hotey/Flickr