The extreme, hardline views of Stephen Miller are dividing the nation on DACA and immigration policy.
Although the shutdown has come to an end, several revelations, especially regarding President Trump’s seemingly sudden retractions on immigration policy, are bringing the controversial White House advisor, Stephen Miller, into the spotlight.
On January 9th, President Trump held a bipartisan meeting to discuss immigration reform, particularly DACA, and appeared open to negotiating a bipartisan bill that would both protect DREAMERs while also offering border security. Trump emphasized the importance of compromise and negotiation, saying: “I’m appealing to everyone in the room to put the country before party, and to sit down and negotiate and to compromise, and let’s see if we can get something done.“
However, this openness was short-lived, with Trump later changing his mind drastically and making the now-infamous “shithole countries” comment. This is not the first time Trump has drastically changed his mind on immigration policy.
Following this meeting, frustrated over the lack of progress in negotiations over immigration policy, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham pointed the blame at Stephen Miller, saying, “as long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating on immigration, we are going nowhere.” Further, Lindsey Graham has said that Miller has “been an outlier for years”, and is one of the main people holding back progress on immigration policy. Graham has said other WH advisors hold “tough but reasonable” views, while others are “extreme and unrealistic”. By other advisors, he meant Stephen Miller.
With some critics even calling Miller “President Miller”, the question of whether Miller is the mastermind behind some of Trump’s most controversial stances on immigration needs to be addressed. Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, shared similar remarks, tweeting: “we need everyone to say Miller is the real president”.
Hardline views of Stephen Miller
One of the few remaining members of the White House staff, especially from the advisory team, Stephen Miller has slowly but surely become one of Trump’s closest and most trusted advisors. A former aide to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then-Republic Senator, Miller is neither new to the political scene nor to infringing his influence upon it. And his influence, based on comments from politicians like Graham, suggests that some politicians are growing impatient with Miller and his hardline views.
Miller has proven time and time again to be a hardliner – in every sense of the word. In the now infamous exchange between Miller and CNN WH Correspondent, Jim Acosta, Acosta suggests that the policy Miller’s policy “sounds like you’re trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country through this policy.” In response, Miller said: “Jim, that is one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant, and foolish things you’ve ever said, and for you, that’s still a really — the notion that you think that this is a racist bill is so wrong and so insulting.”
Miller made clear that his hard stance on chain migration will not yield, saying chain migration “has massively de-skilled the migrant flow into America and produced all of those effects I’m talking about.”
Further, Miller has repeatedly stated that his, and President Trump’s priorities, are their “duty is to U.S. citizens and U.S. workers to promote rising wages for them”. Miller has claimed that low-skilled immigration has been a disadvantage to the economy since the economy has grown a mere 1.5% “at a time of unprecedented new low-wage arrivals” – implying a correlative relationship between the high number of low-wage immigrants and the slow economic growth. Miller also suggested that new immigrants can “displace existing American workers” and be “substitutes” for American workers.
Looking even farther back on Miller’s career reveals increasingly controversial comments, including once referring to Maya Angelou, one of the most revered poets and human rights activists of her time as someone with “racial paranoia”.
Miller has made clear that he is a hardline Conservative with strict views on immigration reform. He thinks “worshipping at the altar of multiculturalism” might lead to the “sacrifice of the one culture which binds us all”, again suggesting that multiculturalism is threatening the U.S. culture and painting diversity in a fairly negative light.
It’s interesting to note, however, that Miller himself is a third-generation immigrant, his mother’s family having come from Belarus to escape the anti-Jewish policies of Russia in 1903. It certainly raises many questions considering Miller has continued to show little to no sympathy for the plights of immigrants escaping insecurity and danger to come to America.
Throughout high school he was vocal on anti-immigration stances, arguing that his school’s announcements should not be in Spanish and only English. Later, in university as well was very involved with Conservative campus groups.
The Worrisome Reality
We’re faced with the worrisome reality – where President Trump’s policy decisions are reliant on a 32-year old advisor’s extremists ideas of American immigration design.
Especially at a time of heightened tensions, it is integral for the key players in the U.S. government to negotiate rather than bicker. Either President Trump really holds very problematic views on immigration, as implied by his recent vulgar comments, or Stephen Miller is hardening the President’s stances rather than encouraging negotiation. Unfortunately, either scenario is not promising.