Posts tagged with "White House Aide Stephen Miller"

Trump’s DHS purge rattles Republicans

April 10, 2019

Now you see them; now you don’t. With DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen ousted on April 7 and Secret Service Director Randolf Alles axed on April 8, even President Donald Trump’s closest Congressional allies are aghast at the purge taking place at the Department of Homeland Security this week, Politico reports.

And the plethora of pink slips may just keep coming. Several more senior officials are said to be in the president’s sights—among them, L. Francis Cissna, the head of U.S. citizenship and Immigration Services and John Mitnik, the DHS general counsel.

It’s a mess,” Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) told the news outlet, summing up the dynamic on the southern border and in Washington, D.C.

The president’s frantic four days of hatchet-wielding at DHS and other agencies has blindsided senior Republicans, who are urging him to stop the bleeding. Republicans note that the president has the right to fire whomever he wants, Politico said, but few offered an explicit defense of his decisions to force out DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen; or remove the Secret Service director and threaten more terminations.

Some are worried about the increasing  influence of top White House aide Stephen Miller—an immigration hardliner whose star seems to be rising in the administration.

Cornyn said he has no idea what Miller’s “agenda” is in determining immigration policy because he isn’t Senate-confirmed and doesn’t correspond with the Hill.

Others believe the president is “losing it,” after backtracking on his threats to close the border, failing to get legal funding for the wall, and losing the court case on separation of families.

“Strikes me as just a frustration of not being able to solve a problem. Honestly, it wasn’t Secretary Nielsen’s fault. It wasn’t for lack of effort on her part. I don’t know if there’s anybody who’s going to be able to do more,” said Cornyn, who spoke to Nielsen on April 8 and planned to speak to her interim replacement, Kevin McAleenan, later in the day.

“I thought that Nielsen was doing a fantastic job,” added Joni Ernst of Iowa, the No. 5 Senate GOP leader. “I would love to see some continuity. I think that’s important.”

Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the most senior GOP senator, is trying to head off even more dismissals as Trump tries to reshape DHS into a “tougher” mold.

In an interview with Politico, Grassley expressed concern that Trump may soon boot U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Francis Cissna and Kathy Nuebel Kovarik, who heads the office of policy and strategy at USCIS.

“I heard that they are on the list to be fired,” Grassley said. “They are doing in an intellectual-like way what the president wants to accomplish. So no, they should not go.”

On immigration, the G.O.P. has not been in lockstep with Trump. So even as the president pursues more aggressive strategies on the border, the party might not stick with him ahead of an election cycle that has the Senate up for grabs and with Republicans eager to take back the House.

“He thinks it’s a winning issue,” said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the Republican whip. “It works for him. It may not work for everybody else.”

Research contact: @burgessev

Coming to America: White House aide Stephen Miller lobbies for lower immigration numbers

August 6, 2018

Folks on the Beltway are wondering just how low the POTUS can go, in more ways than one: President Donald Trump last year advocated dropping the refugee cap as low as 5,000 people, down from 50,000, according to a former administration official— a cut far deeper than even his most hawkish adviser, Stephen Miller, proposed at the time, Politico reported on August 2.

Ultimately, the political news outlet said, the administration restricted to 45,000 the flow of refugees into the United States, this fiscal year—representing the nadir since the program began in 1980, and less than half the target of 110,000 that President Barack Obama set in his last planning cycle.

But that was then. Now, Miller and a group of like-minded aides are lobbying Trump to markedly reduce the number of people entering America, as both legal and illegal immigrants, Politico says.

Despite the blowback that they—and Attorney General Jeff Sessions—got over the imposition of a “zero tolerance” prosecution policy at the southern border that resulted in the separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents, they are seeking a go-ahead.

One Republican close to the White House and a former White House official familiar with the discussions told Politico that the cap could fall as low as 15,000 in 2019.

“Inside the Washington Beltway, this is a numbers game that’s being carried out by people who don’t care about refugees and are orienting this to their base,” Anne Richard, who served as assistant secretary of state for Population, Refugees and Migration in the Obama administration, told Politico.

Miller, a policy adviser to Trump since the campaign and, before that, an aide to then-Senator Jeff Sessions, has made immigration his signature issue—and other White House denizens are loath to cross him, given his passion for the subject and his close relationship with the president, according to people familiar with dynamics inside the administration.

Miller declined to comment for the story. A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Research contact: ncook@politico.com