Stephen Miller, Trump’s Cruelest Adviser

During the 20 months that Donald Trump has been in office, there have been many controversial policies and decisions. None has brought so much disgrace on the country as the prohibition on travel to the United States by citizens of several Muslim countries. But none has caused so much indignation, so much pain, and so many negative reactions as the decision to separate children from their parents at the border with Mexico.

It is hard to imagine anyone who has not been infuriated and moved by the images of children crying desperately for their parents. It is estimated that 2,300 children were separated from their parents; in some cases, they were told that they were going to take a bath, from which they never returned. Some of them are still being detained, in facilities far away from their parents.

Since before Trump, families that tried to enter the country without documents were sent back or set free to wait for legal proceedings for their deportation. The separation of families on the scale we have seen recently is unprecedented. There are many people who are to blame, starting with the president, followed by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, whom the White House sent to defend the policy. But the intellectual author, the brain behind this terrible policy, is Stephen Miller, the 33-year-old presidential adviser regarded as the most anti-immigrant member of the administration.

Miller acknowledges that the separation of families had a clear message: zero tolerance for those who come without a visa. The aim was to curb immigration and punish those who violate immigration laws. What has never been clear is why they decided to punish the children for the actions of the parents. Some of these children have been traumatized for life.

A California native, Miller has been part of the Trump team since the campaign, during which he would make his appearance before Trump, opening the rallies with far-right speeches that stirred up the crowd. Miller is the one whose idea it was for the president to fire FBI Director James Comey, who sought to be independent in his work and not obey the president’s wishes. And Miller has been the author of the most controversial and divisive speeches delivered by the president, like the one he gave at his inauguration.

Miller was born to a California Jewish family, and grew up in Santa Monica, a coastal city considered to be a liberal bastion. His ancestors immigrated to the United States, fleeing persecution and poverty in the former Russian empire. It is believed that when he was an adolescent, attending a high school where 30 percent of the students were Latinos, 12 percent African-American and 5 percent Asians, that he started to hate people who were not white. At that time, he also became a fanatical follower of Wayne LaPierre, the legendary director of the powerful National Rifle Association, which has been an important factor in the absence of gun control in this country.

Miller’s friends from those days remember how he distanced himself from many just because they were Hispanic. None of them forgot an occasion on which he grabbed a microphone at an assembly to request that no white student pick up their own trash, because “we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us.” Almost all the janitors were Latino immigrants.

When he was at Duke University, he wrote several articles complaining about diversity on the faculty and criticizing the Christmas celebration; but above all he wrote in opposition to immigrants. After graduation, thanks to his ultraconservative political thinking, he got a job in Washington with former Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann. Later, he went to work for then-Senator Jeff Sessions, now attorney general and another fierce opponent of immigrants and refugees.

In a different White House, with a different president, Miller would never have been part of the inner circle. And if he had been, he would have been fired already for provoking a crisis like the one we are experiencing on the border, where the cruelty, incompetence and prejudice that exist here are on display. But how is it that this young man, with no experience in politics or bureaucracy, suddenly became a high-level official? His importance and high position say a lot, and speak very badly, about the chaos that reigns in the Trump administration, where anyone who thinks more, even if their thoughts are evil, is the one who calls the shots. Now, beyond a doubt, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

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