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Stephen Miller’s Great-Grandfather Had Trouble Passing Citizenship Test

White House adviser Stephen Miller, a staunch advocate for stricter immigration policies, is the great-grandson of an immigrant — who failed his naturalization test the first time around.

In 1932, Nison (Max) Miller applied for naturalization as an American citizen, according to an application found by Renee Stern Steinig, a former president of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island. He was denied, and his slip was labeled “ignorant.” Stern Steinig noted in a Yahoo News article that this was probably because he slipped up on a few questions on his citizenship test, not because he wasn’t smart or worthy of citizenship. Eventually, he retook the test and passed.

“The point isn’t to play ‘gotcha,’” Stern Steinig told Yahoo. “It’s to show that we are a nation of immigrants, and you are here because someone else picked up and came here for a better life.”

Also sensing hypocrisy from Miller, who described himself as a grandchild of Jewish refugees while highlighting the threats of today’s immigrants, Rob Eshman of the Jewish Journal reached out to a lawyer with expertise in tracing family histories. They traced Miller’s mother’s side (great-grandfather Max was on his father’s side) back to Wolf Lieb Glotzer and his wife, Bessie. Fleeing genocide, the couple arrived from Belarus in 1903 with only $8. They were joined by their son and Wolf’s brother Moses, and eventually by another brother, Sam, who changed his name to Glosser. Sam Glosser was Miller’s maternal great-grandfather.

“Miller demonstrates that in America, truly anything is possible,” Eshman concluded in his story. “The great-grandson of a desperate refugee can grow up to shill for the demagogue bent on keeping desperate refugees like his great-grandfather out.”

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher




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