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Amid Child Separation Crisis and Before House Votes, Experts and Advocates Outline the Troubling, Central Role of White House Aide Stephen Miller

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A recording of today’s call is available here

This week, the nation has been transfixed on the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents along the southern border. In addition, the U.S. House will vote on two anti-immigrant bills. At the crux of both is President Trump’s main policy advisor:  Stephen Miller.

On a press call today, immigrant and civil rights experts discussed Stephen Miller’s background, including his ties to white nationalists, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate groups; how problematic it is for someone with that background to be developing the administration’s policies; and the impact of those policies on affected communities.  A recording of today’s call is available here.

Henry Fernandez, Senior Fellow, the Center for American Progress, said, “Stephen Miller’s hate filled immigration agenda has been one attack after another on people of color.  He is the puppet master behind Trump. From the Muslim ban to separating children at the border to trying to do away with family and diversity visas, Miller has been the architect.  His connection to hate groups and white supremacists like Richard Spencer explain all of it.”

Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), said, “I went to a federal prison to visit 206 immigrants, who had been transferred from the border. What I heard chilled me to the bone, and I think America is beginning to wake up to these atrocities. It is all a result of the zero tolerance policy crafted by Miller. When Trump signed the executive order, he said he will now indefinitely detain families. Incarcerating families indefinitely is Miller’s creation, and it is shameful. This is just trading one cruelty for another. Almost every single woman I talked to in the detainment prison was an asylum seeker, and not a single one of them had been able to say goodbye to their children. Most of these asylum seekers had been there for weeks, all of whom wept speaking about their children. It is shameful. Miller has devoted his life to anti-immigrant, white supremacist policies. He should not be in the White House directing these policies. Miller’s agenda is absolutely un American.”

Heidi Beirich, Intelligence Project Director, Southern Poverty Law Center, said, “Stephen Miller has used his position in the Trump White House to push through an anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim agenda that has received praise from hate and extremist groups. His bigoted views have been a driving force behind hateful policies, including the Muslim ban and the repugnant policy that has separated children from their parents at the border. Miller’s troubling ties to white nationalist Richard Spencer and anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate groups, including the Center for Immigration Studies and the David Horowitz Freedom Center, show the direct line to power that extremists have in this administration.”

Peter Laufer, James N. Wallace Chair of Journalism, Professor in Journalism, said, “In 2007, I was contacted by Richard Spencer, a graduate student, at Duke. I was invited to debate at an event sponsored by the Duke Conservative Union. I try to talk whenever possible to those who have differing point of view, and this event seemed appropriate to accept. Spencer and Miller were both activists for the Duke Conservative Union and were the point people for the organization. They did everything for the duration of the debate. This was not a one-off relationship based on their working closely on the debate and further conversations. My expenses were paid by Duke but did not come in a timely fashion. As a result, I was forced to be in email correspondence over a period of several months which showed the ongoing and close relationship of the two. They were working on immigration policies in direct opposition to the works I was writing.”

Patrice Lawrence, National Policy & Advocacy Director, UndocuBlack Network, said, “We first came across Stephen Miller and his impact on the White House when the RAISE Act, which plans to slash immigration by half, was introduced. It was actually Miller who explained its introduction at the press conference. Not having people who are of color eligible or selected for pathways such as the diversity visa program drastically reduces the opportunities in which people can migrate to the U.S. and is a creation of Miller’s. Ending critical family visa programs to prohibit the reunification of siblings, parents and their children is also a blue book testament to white supremacy. However, as we see with family separation, this doesn’t seem to bother Miller one bit. He has actually applauded the ‘zero tolerance’ policy. His message is not that no one is exempt from the law, it is that Black and Brown immigrants are not welcome here. Miller also advocated to end Temporary Protected Status for over 300,00 legally working immigrants living in the U.S. for the better part of 3 decades. There were even wires sent from previous ambassadors that warned against ending TPS, but it was ended for over 7 countries nevertheless. Trump’s own rhetoric on immigrants who come to the U.S. on diversity visas and TPS, aka from “sh*thole countries” and his language on asylum seekers as vermin coming to “infest” the U.S., match Miller’s rhetoric without a doubt.”