Former President Donald Trump launched his first presidential campaign in June 2015 by descending his golden escalators and accusing Mexican immigrants of being criminals and rapists. Trump would again and again push the debunked and tired narrative that immigrants bring crime throughout his presidency, including establishing the widely-condemned Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office. Its purpose was to track alleged crimes by immigrants. Reportedly a pet project of noted white nationalist Stephen Miller, the VOICE office was dismantled by the Biden administration in early 2021.
Flash forward, and Trump is now the one facing charges of wrongdoing, and has been indicted by yet another grand jury. This time the charges are federal and relate to his role in the January 6 insurrection, for which he was subsequently impeached for a second time by the U.S. House. The 45-page indictment mentions six unnamed co-conspirators who are described as attorneys, a former Justice Department official, and a political consultant “who prosecutors say worked with him in seeking to overturn the 2020 election,” The New York Times reported.
The indictment includes references to Trump’s false claims that non-citizens voted in Phoenix. While we don’t know if Miller is described by any of the references in the indictment, ideas he supported, like non-citizen voting, are rife. We do know that several Trump campaign officials met on December 13 to discuss the “fake electors” scheme, following a request by Trump and a call that included Rudy Giuliani. “When the Senior Campaign Advisor related these developments in text messages to the Deputy Campaign Manager, a Senior Advisor to the Defendant, and a Campaign staffer, the Deputy Campaign Manager responded, ‘Here’s the thing the way this has morphed it’s a crazy play so I don’t know who wants to put their name on it,’” the indictment said.
But someone certainly didn’t have a problem with that. The next morning, December 14, Trump advisor Stephen Miller was on Fox & Friends to tout that scheme. “We have more than enough time to right the wrong of this fraudulent election result and certify Donald Trump as the winner of the election,” Miller claimed. “As we speak, today, an alternate slate of electors in the contested states is going to vote, and we’re going to send those results up to Congress.” Miller’s appearance showed there was “still a way for Trump to steal the election,” Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent noted at the time. Miller vigorously embraced and defended the plan to seat fake, pro-Trump electors despite the fact that Joe Biden had already secured enough electoral votes to make him the next president.
The fact that Miller was arguing for the seating of fraudulent electors and overturning the legitimate results of the 2020 election is rich, considering how often he’d spewed baseless claims of allegedly sketchy activities by immigrants, or fake claims that federal agencies tasked with adjudicating immigration paperwork, including naturalization applications, were brimming with fraud.
“Under Trump, Citizenship and Visa Agency Focuses on Fraud,” read a 2020 headline from NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. “Miller told the AP that USCIS was plagued by a ‘huge amount of fraud,’” the report said. He reportedly had it out for L. Francis Cissna, the then-director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Miller “resented Cissna for what he called the ‘asylum fraud crisis’ at the border, since Cissna’s agency was in charge of handling asylum applications,” The New Yorker reported in 2020. But let’s not feel sorry for him, though: Cissna, in his official capacity as USCIS director, was an invited speaker to an event hosted by anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies. USCIS under Cissna’s watch also struck “nation of immigrants” from its mission statement, a worrying sign of the kind of turmoil the agency would face in the years to come. At one point, USCIS nearly furloughed more than 13,000 employees due to funding. “USCIS is collateral damage for this administration’s immigration agenda,” a policy expert at the Migration Policy Institute said at the time. “You can draw a very direct line from the decreasing receipts to this administration’s priorities and policies.”
Miller also pushed the lie that non-citizens were voting in elections, as part of the Trump administration’s “false and widely-criticized assertion that 3 to 5 million non-citizens illegally voted in the 2016 election,” Time reported in 2017. “We know for a fact, you have massive numbers of non-citizens registered to vote in this country,” Miller claimed to ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos. “The White House has provided enormous evidence with respect to voter fraud.”
Narrator: the White House did not. “Federal law and the law of every state prohibit non-citizens from registering to vote or voting in elections,” Time clarified. Nor is it in non-citizens’ interest to even attempt it, because, “when discovered, non-citizens face fines, time in prison, and deportation.” While the Trump administration falsely claimed that up to five million non-citizens voted in the 2016 election, one review uncovered fewer than 475 instances. Many of these instances favored Trump. Oops.
Then there’s the abhorrent VOICE office, designed to demonize undocumented immigrants as criminals despite the fact that this population commits crimes at lower rates than U.S.-born Americans. In fact, “crime fell more often than it rose even as immigrant populations grew almost across the board,” The Marshall Project said in 2018. “This strategy — one designed to single out a particular group of people, suggesting that there’s something particularly sinister about how they behave — was employed to great effect by Adolf Hitler and his allies,” The Washington Post reported in 2017. Trump’s immigrants and crime hotline would subsequently get overwhelmed by prank calls about space aliens, proving there are still many good and humorous people among us.
We know Miller’s continued to wield his racism and bigotry in the elections since 2016, running a SuperPAC that spewed some of the worst, most vile ads of the 2022 election cycle. The multi-million dollar scheme was a political loser, as America’s Voice Political Director Zachary Mueller noted. The voters held Miller and his ilk accountable then and rejected their ugly messages. But will Stephen Miller ever face consequences for his role in an unprecedented attempt to overturn a free and fair election? As his former boss goes through the criminal justice process, we can only hope.