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Over the weekend, two of the main daily papers in the United States, The New York Times and the Washington Post, dedicated front page articles to the controversial figure that is presidential advisor Stephen Miller, the principal architect of the anti-immigrant policy of the Donald Trump administration.
Nothing detailed would surprise those of us who advocate for the rights of immigrants, since the sinister Miller had already left his mark when he worked for Republican legislators in Congress, particularly for the ex-Senator of Alabama and ex-Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, another of the most anti-immigrant figures in the Republican Party.
Miller is one of the officials who has survived in the Trump administration, when others have not run the same luck. And it’s very probable this is owing to the fact that he shares with the president the same disdain against ethnic minorities, particularly Hispanics even if they are citizens; immigrants, with or without documents; and a particular aversion to refugees.
Because it is quite clear that the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Trump, the public policy that results from it, and the proposals being made are directed toward minorities, immigrants, and refugees of color. We have never heard Trump or Miller rant about white undocumented immigrants.
Their intentions to “bleach” the nation that they see as a threat due to the demographic changes, which are quickly turning us into a country where minorities will be the majority, are rooted in racism and the false idea that minorities represent a threat to their very existence and survival.
And I say that is false, because in every indicator, Anglo Saxons continue to enjoy a situation of privilege; although we cannot ignore, of course, that like all ethnic groups, there are sectors of white people beaten down by unemployment, low wages, a lack of health insurance, and social problems. At any rate, being white continues to be an indicator of advantage, compared with the obstacles faced by less privileged minorities.
But instead of having a sincere debate over the causes of inequalities—provoked by the very same policies that Trump is pushing, such as a tax cut that in reality only benefits the rich, and attacks on Obamacare that would leave millions without medical care—the simplest thing is to look for a scapegoat. And that is where immigrants and minorities of color come in.
But it is more sinister than that, because the agenda that Trump and Miller are proposing is that of the white supremacists, who see in immigration and the growth of the minority population a threat to their own survival.
The mechanisms do not even matter to them, whether it be separating families, caging children and babies, depriving them of their parents, not providing these young people the most basic hygiene products like soap, toothpaste, or a blanket to sleep. Or loosing track of these children in the bureaucracy. Or, as was reported this past weekend, exploring the idea of denying an education to undocumented children, which would stand contrary to a Supreme Court decision from 1982 that guarantees undocumented immigrants access to the public education system.
Miller is also the architect of the “public charge” rule and all the anti-immigrant policies of Trump, starting with the Muslim ban.
It is well known that the Republican Party is an accomplice to Trump and Miller through its silence. Trump does not face any internal resistance, because while Republicans are installing conservative judges that they like and while the economy is going their way, what the president says or does matters little.
The question is whether the anti-immigrant and racist strategy will work in the general election in 2020. That was not the case in the 2018 midterms, when the Democrats won the majority in the House of Representatives and various governorships in districts and states that favored Trump in 2016. Diverse surveys show that Trump’s rhetoric and prejudiced policies do not have the support of a majority of U.S. citizens.
But the Democrats still do not have a nominee, and that also will define the course of the presidential elections.
What is evident is that the Republican Party we used to know no longer exists. The last Republican president to propose immigration reform and try to be more inclusive to this cohort was George W. Bush, who occupied the White House until January 20, 2009, when Barack Obama took the oath.
The most anti-immigrant Republican sectors were considered marginal in that era, but just a decade later they have turned into the head of the party, to a degree commanded by Trump, the most divisive and racist Republican figure in recent history, and his co-pilot Miller. Worse still, Trump is supported by 90% of the Republican Party.
I do not know if the more moderate conservatives will look for temporary refuge among Democrats or Independents; if they will found another collective now that their own has been kidnapped by anti-immigrant forces; or if the Republican Party has already passed the point of no return.
What is clear is that Trump and Miller, the axis of evil, still have a year and a half left to continue inflicting damage, with the possibility of another four years more, if Trump is re-elected.