- The New York Times reported President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy that separates families at the US-Mexico border was the work of White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller.
- Miller pushed the policy to fruition after March’s increase in illegal immigration, which Trump touted as a top priority in his 2016 campaign.
- The policy has drawn criticism from lawmakers in and outside of the Trump administration.
President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy that separates families at the US-Mexico border was the work of White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller.
The New York Times reported the origin of the controversial policy on Saturday. Miller, a 32-year-old policy specialist, followed the momentum of March’s peak in illegal immigration numberssince Trump took office to push the policy.
It’s since resulted in nearly 2,000 children separated from their families at the border over six weeks, according to the Associated Press. Photos and stories of infants and young children being ripped from their parents’ arms has ignited a firestorm of criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike.
Miller told The Times he supported the policy because it discouraged migrants from crossing the border illegally.
“No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement,” he said. “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.”
Miller has been a rising star on the far right for years, often making headlines because of his polarising demeanour and statements.
The hard line Miller described echoes how the policy was announced last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a deterrence measure. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border,” Sessions said.
Officials across the administration have aired their problems with the policy, including counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, who pointed to formal immigration policy reform in Congress as the necessary fix.
“I will tell you that nobody likes this policy,” Conway told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on Sunday. “You saw the president on camera that he wants this to end, but everybody has, Congress has to act.”
Trump has also pointed to Democratic lawmakers as responsible for changing “forced family breakup at the Border” and falsely blamed Democrats on Twitter and in front of the press for his own administration’s policy.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said earlier this week that executive, not legislative, action is key in ending the “barbaric” policy.
Current and former officials told the Times this discord over the policy is coursing through the administration, despite top officials like Sessions and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly taking hard stances.
Kelly, Trump’s former head of Department of Homeland Security,told NPR last month the policy is one “no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.”
Sessions has since doubled down on the policy’s groundings,quoting a Bible verse as defence in a speech last week.
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