In a later exchange, Miller attacked the 1965 Hart-Celler Act, which repealed the racist and anti-Semitic restrictions of the 1920s. His feedback helped shape a Breitbart article titled “Ted Kennedy’s Real Legacy: 50 Years of Ruinous Immigration Law,” which lamented the fact that “native-born whites are the only group expected to decline in both absolute numbers and fertility rates.” Miller himself wrote to praise McHugh’s work, telling her, “You’re the only writer in the country who published a piece even mentioning the law and what it did.”
That Miller himself possesses a Jewish background is no obstacle to his believing that the racist and anti-Semitic restrictions of the 1920s were a great achievement, and that the law that repealed them was a great tragedy. These comments shed a great deal of light on Miller’s motives in shaping administration policy.
For instance, in a 2015 exchange, Miller complained that Mexican survivors of Hurricane Patricia could be given temporary protected status, or TPS, which would have allowed them to stay and work in the United States. Shortly after taking office, Trump sought to end TPS for about 400,000 El Salvadorans, Hatians, and Hondurans in the U.S., those from nations the president has privately referred to as “shithole countries.” In September, he prevented Bahamians fleeing Hurricane Dorian from coming to the U.S. and being granted TPS, saying he was worried about “gang members” and “drug dealers.”
Miller was also at the forefront of constructing the Trump administration’s travel ban targeting Muslim countries; he helped devise the child-separation policy designed to deter Latin American immigrants; he worked to scuttle a deal with Democrats following Trump’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which prevented the deportation of young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children; and he is trying to reduce the number of refugees being admitted to zero. The emails help explain Miller’s zeal.
Miller is not alone. As I reported in 2017, his former boss and Trump’s former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, also praised the immigration restrictions of the 1920s, in an interview with the former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and while Miller worked for Sessions’s Senate office, the senator regularly sent out press releases warning of the dangers of Muslim immigration and lamenting a lack of immigration from Europe. Michael Anton, a former Trump national-security official, wrote a screed in 2016 urging conservatives to back Trump in part because of the “ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty.”
On Fox News, on a nightly basis, conservative figures with direct lines to the president urge conservative audiences to view the presence of nonwhites in America as an existential threat, which is to say that viewers are encouraged to view their countrymen in this way. Fox personalities such as Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham tell their viewers that “Latin American countries are changing election outcomes here by forcing demographic change on this country” and that Democrats “want to replace you, the American voters, with newly amnestied citizens and an ever-increasing number of chain migrants.” Ingraham and Carlson are reliable apparatchiks—in the Bush era, they echoed the hawkish views of neoconservatives. Now that Trumpism is ascendant, both dedicate their nightly broadcasts to convincing Republicans that the president’s nativism is both brilliant and necessary, recognizing it as the ideological core of his presidency.