Senior White House aide Stephen Miller generally keeps a low profile within the Trump administration, but he has emerged in the debate surrounding President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy as a staunch defender of separating children from their families at the southern U.S. border.
“No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement,” Miller told the Times in an interview. “It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”
Though there appears to be disagreement among senior administration officials over the issue, Miller continues to hold sway within the West Wing.
As the outrage grows, so do the divisions within the White House, including from Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary. She has clashed so frequently with Trump over the issue that she has come close to resigning.
Trump has expressed some misgivings about the policy but has blamed Democrats and suggested on Twitter that it is a negotiating tool to get Democrats to agree to his demands. “Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!” Trump wrote in a tweet. The increasing outrage over the policy comes as new official figures show almost 2,000 children have been separated from their guardians at the border in the six weeks ending on May 31.
Miller’s first major appearance after joining the Trump White House came by way of the travel ban, when the senior aide argued extensively in favor of barring individuals from predominantly Muslim nations from entering the U.S.