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OpinionEditorial

The extremist by Trump's side

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller waits

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller waits for the start of a meeting with President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on June 30, 2019. Credit: AP/Susan Walsh

As the nation gathers for Thanksgiving, an all-inclusive celebration of generosity and the disparate groups that make America, Stephen Miller's radical anti-immigration positions seem even more out of tune. 

The architect of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies is essentially molding national programs to reflect his personal views. He is unfit for the role of White House senior policy adviser, given his pre-White House emails released to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization that tracks extremism.

It’s there in the writing, and in what the emails show about his source materials.

After the 2015 murders of nine African Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina, church by a white nationalist fond of the Confederate flag, here’s what Miller was worried about: the fact that Amazon was lukewarm on selling those flags to the masses.

“22.6 percent of Southern men who were between the ages of 20 and 24 in 1860 lost their lives because of the war,” he wrote in a ridiculous comparison.

The emails spell out his hope to decrease immigration, particularly from non-white countries. His response even to a dangerous hurricane threatening Mexico? Noting that it might lead to immigrants getting protected status here.

Miller's sources of information are alarming drivel. He links to media outlets like American Renaissance, which rubs shoulders with Klan members and neo-Nazis. Then there are websites  such as InfoWars, a rabbit hole of conspiracies  that include the idea that various mass shootings are actually false-flag operations.

Should a key White House figure be looking for source material from there and VDare, a website obsessed with whiteness and named after the first English child born on the continent?

The emails were correspondence with former Breitbart employee Katie McHugh, who wrote to Miller for her work and has made incendiary comments of her own. But she has renounced her past work and shared the messages with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which the White House has been reduced to trying to smear when it ought to be expressing disapproval of the email content. 

The Miller saga is particularly disturbing because White House dysfunction has allowed him to jam through his priorities. America has suffered thanks to Miller’s work. That has included various versions of a travel ban targeted at Muslims, a policy of family separation at the border, and opposition to bipartisan immigration reform.

Lives are being affected. The Trump administration is still toying with the fate of recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and making it harder to claim asylum at the border. Expect fearmongering about immigration to continue.

There is much work to be done to create a better immigration system. But restricting immigration should not be motivated by racism. Border security and respect for immigration laws are possible without anti-immigrant extremism. Trump is unlikely to demand that Miller turn in his White House ID as the president seeks reelection on his immigration policies. But until Miller is gone,  sensible people won't be able to hash out new immigration positions that would benefit current citizens and adhere to this nation’s best ideals. — The editorial board

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