Stephen Miller Leads A Purge of White House Immigration Officials
Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump’s immigration policies, angrily wondered what was taking so long to carry out his plans during a meeting in the White House Situation Room, according to The New York Times.
A new regulation to deny legal immigrants welfare benefits was moving sluggishly through the approval process after over two years, as were new rules that would overturn court-ordered protections for migrant children. Miller directed his anger at Ronald D. Vitiello, the acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“You ought to be working on this regulation all day every day,” Miller exclaimed, as told by two participants at the meeting. “It should be the first thought you have when you wake up. And it should be the last thought you have before you go to bed. And sometimes you shouldn’t go to bed.”
Miller’s frustrations lead Trump to withdraw Vitiello’s nomination to permanently lead ICE a few weeks after the meeting. It also led Trump to push out Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary. Claire Grady, the department’s acting deputy secretary, and Secret Service director Randolph D. Alles are leaving the administration as well. The White House has also suggested that others are likely to follow, including L. Francis Cissna, head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and John Mitnick, the department’s general counsel.
In a Saturday tweet, Trump said he was “not frustrated” by the border situation. Yet, when he was not able to deliver the promise he made in his 2016 campaign, he began to purge the highest-ranking officials in his administration. Behind this purge is Stephen Miller, a White House senior adviser.
Last week, administration officials insisted that they had no choice but to move against those who were not able to make their agencies produce results.
Anonymous sources say that the purge was the result of clashes between Miller and other officials who have tried to implement unethical, unreasonable, or impractical policies. Many of these officials were appointed by Trump himself.
“I don’t think the president’s really cleaning house,” said Thomas D. Homan, a former acting ICE director. “I think he’s setting the reset button.”
Many right-wing anti-immigration groups have questioned the treatment of these White House officials.
The Center for Immigration Studies tweeted:“Nielsen got tough at the end of her tenure, but it was largely too little, too late.”
The Federation for American Immigration Reform wrote: “Under Francis Cissna’s leadership, USCIS has issued a steady stream of policy changes and regulations that are firmly in line with President Trump’s immigration agenda. Removing him would be a huge mistake.”
The administration has floundered while attempting to stop the flow of migrants coming into the U.S. In November, one White House domestic policy adviser came up with the idea of putting apprehended migrants in sanctuary cities. The idea was abandoned because it would create “an unnecessary operational burden,” according to Matthew Albence, acting deputy director of ICE. The idea’s legality was also questionable.
Last week, news about the rejected idea caused Trump to announce that the idea was still being considered. Trump has also not given up on the idea of shutting down the southern border, which many economic experts have insisted would be catastrophic, as it would stop the flow of $1.7 billion of goods and services that comes across the border daily.
When Nielsen refused to shut down the border due to ethical and economic reasons, it seemed to be the last straw. She was forced to resign and Kevin McAleenan was named the acting secretary of the department. Trump assured McAleenan that if he had legal problems, he would be pardoned.
More, there are rumors that Trump could name an immigration czar to manage the entire immigration bureaucracy.
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