When it comes to pushing the xenophobic agenda that’s come to define the Trump administration’s immigration policies, Stephen Miller is the poster child – the smug face of overt racism behind Trump’s dog-whistling.
Miller is the architect of all things abhorrent and when pressed in public, he comes across as whatever the opposite of apologetic is. Empathy is not Stephen’s thing.
His approach plays well with the President’s increasingly frenzied base, which then-candidate Trump whipped into a frenzy on the campaign trail starting the moment he announced his candidacy when he infamously characterized Mexicans as drug-dealing “rapists”. The anti-immigrant propaganda reached epic levels of absurdity when Trump called for a complete ban of Muslims entering the United States, a declaration that seemed comically ridiculous at the time, but would go on to form the basis of the President’s travel ban.
Over the course of his presidency, Trump has repeatedly characterized immigrants as insects and animals, something he gets away with by attaching the MS-13 red herring to his xenophobic tweets and rants. “Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13”, Trump tweeted on June 19. He doubled down on that several weeks later, tweeting this on July 3:
When we have an “infestation” of MS-13 GANGS in certain parts of our country, who do we send to get them out? ICE! They are tougher and smarter than these rough criminal elelments that bad immigration laws allow into our country. Dems do not appreciate the great job they do! Nov.
At an April 5 event in West Virginia (ostensibly convened to talk about tax reform), Trump said this about how Long Island has been taken over by Mexican gang members:
You know, we’ve gone into towns in Long Island where we’ve taken MS-13 and we’ve actually liberated towns. This is our country, right? I grew up in Long Island, right short of Long Island. And these are great towns; I know every one of them. And they were taken over by thugs, by — you know, they talk about guns; they didn’t want to use guns. They use knives because it’s much more painful, where they cut people up, because a bullet is too quick. They want to inflict pain on students, on young women, young girls walking home. And their parents never see them again. They’re cut up.
In case that sounds so insane that you can’t even imagine Trump saying it, here’s the clip:
ok so here is Trump today, **at a tax roundtable**, explaining how Long Island was taken over by violent gangs who are kidnapping students (?) and cutting them up with knives. pic.twitter.com/CXl1rEoHD0
— Walter White (@heisenbergrpt) April 6, 2018
He has repeated that story (or some version of it) on numerous occasions since. In fact, he mentioned it again last week in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Watch this:
(Trump speaks to a crowd in Pennsylvania, August 2, 2018)
That, frankly, is hard to watch. Do note the young girls over his left shoulder who were force fed that propaganda with who knows what psychological consequences in terms of how they’ll be inclined to view Hispanic Americans after listening to the President talk about “the slicers” and “the animals.”
Again, Stephen Miller is the man behind the scenes on this anti-immigrant push. “White House officials are loath to cross him given his passion for the subject and his close relationship with the president,” Politico wrote last week, citing people close to the Oval Office, before quoting one Republican source as follows:
Miller is not deterred. He is an adamant believer in stopping any immigration, and the president thinks it plays well with his base.
Well now, according to NBC, Miller is all set to embark on a new push to prevent legal immigrants from becoming citizens if they’ve ever used Obamacare and other welfare programs. And yes, I am serious. Here’s NBC, citing multiple sources and a draft document:
The Trump administration is expected to issue a proposal in coming weeks that would make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens or get green cards if they have ever used a range of popular public welfare programs, including Obamacare, four sources with knowledge of the plan told NBC News.
The move, which would not need Congressional approval, is part of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller’s plan to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year.
Details of the rulemaking proposal are still being finalized, but based on a recent draft seen last week and described to NBC News, immigrants living legally in the U.S. who have ever used or whose household members have ever used Obamacare, children’s health insurance, food stamps and other benefits could be hindered from obtaining legal status in the U.S.
This comes days after a federal judge ruled that the administration must restore DACA in full within a month.
The Department of Homeland Security is pitching Miller’s plan (first pondered earlier this year but now in the final planning stages) as an innocent effort to protect taxpayers. Here’s their statement:
The administration is committed to enforcing existing immigration law, which is clearly intended to protect the American taxpayer by ensuring that foreign nationals seeking to enter or remain in the U.S are self-sufficient. Any proposed changes would ensure that the government takes the responsibility of being good stewards of taxpayer funds seriously and adjudicates immigration benefit requests in accordance with the law.
Ah, so now the Trump administration is concerned with “being good stewards of taxpayer funds”. That’s interesting, because when it comes to ensuring taxpayer funds aren’t squandered, one has to question the relative wisdom of spending $30 million on a Third World-style military parade, something notorious deficit hawk and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney had a hard time justifying when pressed earlier this year:
(Mulvaney, speaking to the House Budget Committee on February 14, 2018)
As it turns out, a version of Miller’s plan is on its way to Mick’s desk right now, with OMB review being “the final step before publishing a rule in the federal register.”
All of this should be viewed in the context of Trump’s wildly unpopular child separation policy which, contrary to what the administration repeatedly claimed, was not required by law.
“Since the 19th century, immigration policy has discriminated against migrants who might become a ‘public charge’, But Trump plans to expand the definition of the term to include basic benefits for the working class, like health insurance”, New York Magazine’s wrote on Tuesday in a blistering (albeit short) critique of Miller’s new “plan”.
“That this all proceeds from some fastidiousness about following the rules is a pretense nobody need bother entertaining anymore”, he added.