Author: ELIZA RELMAN
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller has long been one of the driving forces behind President Donald Trump’s harshest immigration policies, including the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separates immigrant children from their families at the US-Mexico border.
But the 32-year-old immigration hardliner’s own family were asylum-seekers. Miller’s great grandparents found refuge in the US after escaping anti-Jewish persecution in Antopol, Belarus in 1903, according to Vanity Fair. The Glossers settled in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and opened a tailoring business that grew into a department store and large chain, Glosser Bros., that made Miller’s family a fortune.
“Imagine living in a place where armed Cossacks ride through the streets, looking to cripple or kill you,” Robert Jeschonek wrote in a 2014 book, “Long Live Glosser’s,” about Miller’s mother’s family.
While Miller has advocated for limiting legal immigration to individuals who speak English and would “assimilate” easily, his great-grandmother spoke only Yiddish when she arrived in the US.
A former aide to then-Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, Miller has for years cultivated his right-wing immigration platform.
Raised in a liberal community in Santa Monica, California, Miller attended Hebrew school at a self-described “Progressive Reform Synagogue,” according to The Jewish Journal. But he grew into an avid conservative as a teenager, drawing attention at Santa Monica High for his contrarian views and, later, as an undergraduate at Duke University for his controversial appearances on conservative talk radio and cable news.
High school classmates of Miller’s claim he spoke disparagingly toward Spanish-speaking students. And at Duke, Miller wrote that “America without her culture is like a body without a soul-yet many of today’s youth see America as nothing but a meeting point for the cultures of other nations.”
“We must come to the defense of our heritage,” Miller wrote in the column, which discussed the international student presence on campus. “And for us, that fight begins right here, on our campus.”
As Trump has attempted to distance himself from his widely condemned policy of separating migrant families – falsely claiming that Democrats are to blame for the practice – Miller has aggressively defended the policy.
“No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement,” he told The New York Times last week. “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.”