Stephen Miller

Former Senior Policy Adviser to President Trump

Outside of former President Trump’s own family members, Stephen Miller remained one of the more constant figures in the Trump universe, joining the Trump campaign before the 2016 Iowa caucuses and serving as White House senior policy adviser for the entirety of Trump’s term in office. The lead architect of many of Trump’s immigration policies, Miller’s resilience in the administration was testament to Trump’s commitment to an extremely hawkish immigration policy.

Miller, who grew up in Santa Monica, California, went to Duke University before entering politics as the press secretary for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and later Congressman John Shadegg — two lawmakers with very conservative records on immigration. In 2009, Miller joined then-Senator Jeff Sessions’s staff and later played a central role in Sessions’s opposition to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, a bipartisan piece of legislation that aimed to increase border security while also creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country. Sessions and Miller led the ultimately successful effort to stop the bill on the premise that any pathway to citizenship would fundamentally hurt American workers.

Critics of Miller have asserted his immigration policies are motivated by racial antagonism. They point to interactions Miller allegedly had at Duke University with Richard Spencer, a white nationalist and leader of the alt-right (whom Miller has since denounced); more than two dozen columns Miller wrote for his college newspaper, including one that railed against multiculturalism; and a trove of Miller’s emails leaked by a Breitbart News editor that show an apparent affinity for ideas popular among white nationalists and praise for Camp of the Saints, a book known for its depiction of “white genocide.”

The Breitbart emails, released in 2019, were never disputed by the White House, where Miller continued to play a leading role in Trump’s immigration policy, including the travel ban for people from Muslim-majority countries, reducing the annual cap on refugees accepted into the country from 110,000 to 18,000, and the “zero tolerance” border security policy, which separated children from parents and mandated detention for everyone caught crossing the border illegally.

Though Miller remained central to Trump’s presidential decision-making, administration officials regularly leaked unflattering stories about Miller to the press, including allegations that he blocked the publication of internal Trump administration studies that showed refugees had a net positive effect on the national economy, and that Miller once told a White House colleague that he “would be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched America’s soil.”

Since leaving the White House, Miller hasn’t slowed down. He has given numerous interviews, briefed GOP lawmakers on how to oppose Biden’s proposed immigration policies, and formed a new legal group, America First Legal, which has already joined with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to file a federal lawsuit aimed at preventing the Biden administration from allowing any migrants on the southern border to enter the U.S. Those vying to carry Trumpism into the 2024 Republican presidential primary will likely consider making Miller a core part of their team.


Miller’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    Miller supports increased border security, including more barrier construction and more walls, but does not want it to be tied to any amnesty for undocumented immigrants, as evidenced by his leading opposition to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.

  • Border Wall

    Miller voiced strong support for Trump's moves to use military and emergency funding to build more barriers along the southern border.

  • Detention

    Miller was an architect of the “zero tolerance” policy.

  • Immigration Courts

    Miller thinks Border Patrol agents, not asylum officers, should conduct “credible fear” interviews, believing that asylum officers are too “soft” on asylum seekers and that Border Patrol agents would conduct tougher interviews that would drive up the percentage of applicants who are turned away at this initial stage before reaching a courtroom.

  • Undocumented Population

    Miller does not support a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented population already in the country. He supports large-scale deportations because of fears about shifting demographics in the country.

  • ICE

    Miller supports the expansion of the agency. He pushed for a policy to embed ICE officers in the U.S. refugee agency for the express purpose of gathering information on unaccompanied migrant children that could be used to expedite deportations.

  • DACA

    Miller does not support continued protections for DACA enrollees. He previously characterized the program as an attempt to “replace existing demographics” in the country.

  • Asylum

    Miller played a leading role in reducing the cap on the annual number of refugees accepted into the country from 110,000 to 18,000.

  • Central America Policy

    Miller supports making asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle apply from their home countries. He supported the Trump administration’s decision to cut off financial aid to the region, citing concerns over corruption.

  • Visas

    Miller supported a policy to end visas for Chinese students, citing worries over espionage. He opposes the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, which would eliminate country caps for immigrants, citing worries that an increase in temporary worker visas could hurt American workers.