In November, a hundred U.S. lawmakers called for the termination of senior White House adviser Stephen Miller after a former Breitbart News reporter, who previously identified as a white nationalist and an alt-righter, leaked emails to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in which Miller gave her leads and ideas to depict immigrants in a negative light. At the time the emails were written, Miller was an aide to then–Sen. Jeff Sessions (R–Ala.). He then went on to become one of President Donald Trump's closest advisers and the architect of his immigration policies.
Now, 25 Jewish members of Congress are joining the call to fire Miller after Rolling Stone published another email exposé. These emails, which are from Miller's time in the White House, show that Miller has not only stacked immigration enforcement agencies with hardline restrictionists but also routinely bypasses normal channels to push his agenda. Those congresspeople are particularly incensed that Miller is using his part-Jewish background as a cover for his hardline anti-immigration policies. "If there was ever a group that should be most sympathetic to the plight of immigrants, to the plight of the downtrodden and to minorities, it should be Jewish people," Rep. Kim Schrier (D–Wash.), one of the lawmakers, told NPR. "His behavior is contrary to everything in our ethos."
Although the White House is hanging tough for now, even accusing the SPLC of engaging "in a vile smear campaign against a Jewish staffer," the calls for Miller's firing will possibly escalate after another story broke showing that Miller tried to embed ICE agents in the Office of Refugee Resettlement for interior enforcement purposes, a move that was almost certainly illegal.
The leaked emails from Katie McHugh, the Breitbart reporter, are from 2015 to 2016. They show Miller sharing stories with her from InfoWars, Alex Jones' far-right site that often peddles conspiracy theories, and VDare, a white nationalist website. The VDare story he sent her argued, for example, that there would be disastrous repercussions for the U.S. should Mexicans impacted by Hurricane Patricia be permitted to take shelter in America. In other email exchanges, Miller depicted immigrants of color as criminals and terrorists, and wrote, "it has never been easier in American history for illegal aliens to commit crimes of violence against Americans." McHugh dutifully published many stories linking immigrants with crime, even though the undocumented are, in fact, less crime-prone than natives.
According to McHugh, even though Miller was working for Sessions, he was effectively "the editorial director of the political section of Breitbart News." It was tantamount to Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) writing op-eds that CNN passed off as its own, McHugh told NPR. "It was wildly unethical—incredible violation of journalistic ethics."
McHugh, who has now repudiated her white nationalist ideology, was finally terminated from Breitbart in June of 2017 after outrage following this tweet: "There would be no deadly terror attacks in the U.K. if Muslims didn't live there."
But two years before that, in September 2015, Miller got upset with Pope Francis, who he felt was "in effect" saying "get rid of borders." He wrote to McHugh telling her that "someone should point out [to the Pope] the parallels to The Camp of the Saints," referring to the racist novel that has long been a cult classic in white supremacist circles. Written by French author Jean Raspail, the novel portrays the apocalyptic effects of migration. Its plot centers around a flotilla of hundreds of thousands of Indians—who eat their own poop and are described as murderous, sex-crazed, "kinky-haired," "swarthy-skinned," and "long-despised"—as they sail across the ocean to France in search of the "white man's comfort."
Brietbart obliged Miller. "Raspail's thesis, quite simply, is that liberalism is inadequate to defend liberalism," wrote Julia Hahn, then a Breitbart staffer, who is one of the people Miller has brought in as a Special Assistant to Trump. "All around the world, events seem to be lining up with the predictions of the book."
All of this barely scratches the surface of the stories Miller fed to Breitbart.
But the most recent tranche of emails obtained by Rolling Stone's Andy Kroll shows how Miller has used his White House perch to put like-minded individuals in key positions to push some of this administration's most notorious policies. "Miller, with his white-nationalist mindset and fervor to enact xenophobic policies, is far from an isolated actor," Kroll writes. "He's the leader of a broad operation spread across the federal government."
One of Miller's regular correspondents, the Rolling Stone emails show, is Jon Feere, a senior adviser at ICE and former policy analyst at the ultra-restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). CIS is the respectable spin-off of the Michigan-based Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), founded by the late John Tanton. An ophthalmologist, Tanton lamented that Hitler gave eugenics a bad name and accepted funding from The Pioneer Fund, which advocated eugenics. FAIR is the organization responsible for republishing The Camp of the Saints in America. Despite FAIR's notorious background, Miller helped place its former staffer, Julie Kirchner, as an adviser to the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection and later as the top ombudsman at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
Feere is on record arguing for the elimination both of birthright citizenship and also the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that gives temporary legal status to Dreamers (those who were brought to this country as minors without proper authorization).
The emails between Feere and Miller show the two working together, sometimes bypassing Feere's bosses and senior staffers, including former ICE Acting Director Tom Homan, no slouch himself when it comes to harsh enforcement.
Writes Rolling Stone's Kroll:
"In the emails, Feere strategizes with Miller about how to use the federal government to amplify their anti-immigration message; tees up potential attacks on prominent Democratic politicians; directly briefs Miller in great detail about upcoming enforcement actions and policy changes in the works; and recommends to Miller people the administration should hire to expedite its immigration agenda."
In one email, Feere tells Miller about a meeting he led about crafting a new agreement between ICE and the Department of Labor on worksite immigration enforcement actions that would be "more favorable to ICE's mission" of tracking down and deporting undocumented residents. Feere also describes helping plan an upcoming ICE raid in the Bay Area. All of this constituted a major escalation of ICE's enforcement mission. But what's also notable about the email, Kroll points out, is that Feere apparently sent it straight to Miller and other White House officials without running it by his bosses at ICE, including Homan, who learned about the communication only after the fact.
Kroll also found evidence of Feere saying he stopped the administration from responding to an Amnesty International inquiry about its immigration enforcement practices and helped a Fox News contributor and "friendly NGO" publicly defend a leaked draft proposal for separating migrant families.
Feere and Miller collaborated on defending some of this administration's most draconian policies, such as separating children from their migrant parents. But they also brainstormed to advance their enforcement agenda in more creative ways. For example, they discussed the possibility of transferring a like-minded employee from the Treasury Department to the Social Security administration as a "senior advisor" so that the individual would have "clout" in setting up information-sharing efforts to track down and deport undocumented immigrants.
All of this had already deeply upset many lawmakers. But then just before Christmas, The Washington Post reported that Miller attempted to embed ICE agents in the government agency charged with resettling refugees to intensify deportation efforts against the adult sponsors who come forward to claim unaccompanied minors. This flies in the face of language that Congress included in the 2018 funding bill prohibiting DHS from using any federal funds to "place in detention, remove, refer for a decision whether to initiate removal proceedings, or initiate removal proceedings against a sponsor, potential sponsor, or member of a household of a sponsor or potential sponsor of an unaccompanied alien child."
While the DHS rejected Miller's plan to let ICE agents infiltrate the refugee outfit, it nevertheless allowed them to collect biometric data on adults who come to claim the unaccompanied minors in its custody. The DHS says it is doing so to ensure that the kids aren't handed to traffickers. But the worry is that ICE will classify them as ineligible to take custody of the kids for all kinds of reasons, including minor immigration violations, and set them up for deportation.
This would likely violate the law. Worse, it will scare away relatives or parents of these children from coming forward. The last time the administration implemented zero tolerance, the amount of time unaccompanied kids ended up spending at government shelters almost doubled, from 50 to 93 days. That policy also resulted in a growing number of what are called "category four" cases, where the government cannot find an eligible adult to take custody of the kids. After several months, the kids are placed in foster homes, The Post notes.
Given all these revelations about Miller, the chorus of calls demanding that President Trump fire him are only likely to grow louder in the coming months.