White House policy advisor Stephen Miller called President Trump’s policy of separating immigrant parents from children a “simple decision.”
The Jewish aide was instrumental in convincing Trump to enact the new zero-tolerance border policies that have led to the dramatic and controversial shift, The New York Times reported.
“No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement,” Miller told the Times. “It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”
Miller, who is Jewish, argued in White House meetings that the new policy would deter illegal immigration. During the Obama and Bush administration, most undocumented immigrants who were caught at the border were released pending a hearing — which many never showed up for. Miller claimed that this practice just incentivized more migration.
Now, undocumented migrant adults are arrested and jailed, and their children are then classified as unaccompanied alien minors and taken away to separate facilities.
“This is not a zero tolerance policy, this is a zero humanity policy, and we can’t let it go on,” Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley told the Times.
The practice has been defended by others in the Trump administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have both cited the Bible to justify the policy.