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Trump’s Second Term Immigration Agenda Could Be Even Worse If Stephen Miller Gets His Way

Few of Trump’s advisors have gained the stature and respect in his inner circle quite like Stephen Miller. He long ago staged a coup within the Department of Homeland Security by exerting his outsized influence on his boss. And he can thank his rise in Trump’s graces thanks to the issue that seemingly got Trump elected: immigration.

At a March 2019 meeting about a rise in border apprehensions, Trump indicated that he was frustrated with everyone else. “Stephen’s in charge,” he said. Miller referred to it in a subsequent conversation with a former senior administration official who worked closely with him on immigration issues as his “coronation.”

Now, as the Coronavirus pandemic ravages the United States, the public cares a lot less about immigration. Only about 51 percent of registered voters say it’s a top issue for them, according to the Pew Research Center—down from 70 percent four years ago.

If Trump is reelected, Miller, an idealogue with an affinity for white nationalism, has a wish list of immigration items he has yet to pursue because they were deemed too politically risky ahead of November.

Trump adviser Stephen Miller reveals aggressive second-term immigration agenda.

Trump’s senior advisor Stephen Miller has been openly discussing his wish list for immigration policies should Trump’s secure a second term – offering a stark contrast to the platform of Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

In a 30-minute phone interview with NBC News, Miller outlined four major priorities: limiting asylum grants, punishing and outlawing “sanctuary cities,” expanding the so-called travel ban with tougher screening for visa applicants and slapping new limits on work visas. The objective, he said, is “raising and enhancing the standard for entry” to the United States.

Although some of the plans would require congressional action, Miller pointed out that many of his policies could be achieved through executive action, which the Trump administration has relied on heavily in the absence of a major immigration bill.

“In many cases, fixing these problems and restoring some semblance of sanity to our immigration programs does involve regulatory reform,” Miller said. “Congress has delegated a lot of authority. … And that underscores the depth of the choice facing the American people.”

Miller has been the ‘ideas man’ behind many of Trump’s most cruel immigration policies.

Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images

Throughout the Trump Presidency, we’ve heard of and been outraged by numerous shocking immigration policies: from gutting asylum at the southwest border, restricting access to green cards, suspending travel from Muslim-majority countries, separating families at the border, locking up children, slashing refugee admissions to historic lows, and torching the vision of America as a haven for the poor and the persecuted. These have largely all been the doing of Stephen Miller.

While Trump claims that his policies target criminals and cartels, for Miller, it’s about deterring, deporting, and denying entry to Black and brown people who may, as he sees it, have children and enhance what he believes to be the apocalyptic threat of “multiculturalism,” per his white-supremacist reading preferences.

Asylum-seekers have already seen their rights and chances at asylum slashed – it would only get worse.

Credit: GUILLERMO ARIAS / Getty Images

On Trump’s watch, asylum grants have plummeted. Miller wants to keep it that way. He said a second-term Trump administration would seek to expand “burden-sharing” deals with Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that cut off pathways to the U.S. for asylum-seekers.

“The president would like to expand that to include the rest of the world,” Miller said. “And so if you create safe third partners in other continents and other countries and regions, then you have the ability to share the burden of asylum-seekers on a global basis.”

A second-term Trump administration would stand in stark contrast to the platform put forth by the Biden campaign.

Miller’s planned immigration policies stand opposite those of a potential Biden presidency. When asked about Miller’s proposals by NBC News, Biden’s director of Latino media Jennifer Molina said, “We are going to win this election so that people like Stephen Miller don’t get the chance to write more xenophobic policies that dishonor our American values.”

Even Joe Biden weighed in on the potential Trump policies, saying in a statement that the agenda outlined by Miller represents “four more years of hateful rhetoric and division” and policies that demonstrate “cruelty and exclusion” rather than hope.

“This agenda is designed to do one thing only: divide our communities with cheap, xenophobic rhetoric, and demonize those seeking to make legitimate asylum claims in the United States to find a life of safety for themselves and their children,” he said.

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