A Democratic House committee chairman on Wednesday invited White House aide Stephen Miller to testify before his panel and “make your case” for President Donald Trump’s aggressive policies cracking down on both illegal and legal immigration.
The combative Miller is one of the White House’s most conservative and influential voices in pushing moves that Trump has taken to curb immigration. He engineered Trump’s Muslim travel ban and is widely viewed as the driving force behind the administration’s hardest-line immigration policies.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Past administrations have often refused to send White House aides to testify before Congress, though there have been exceptions.
Should such a session occur, it would be bound to ignite fireworks over an issue that has repeatedly produced heated clashes between Trump and congressional Democrats. Trump has made an immigration crackdown a cornerstone of his appeal to conservative voters, while Democrats — led by liberal and Hispanic lawmakers — have been just as adamant in opposing his moves.
“I understand that you may not want to submit yourself to rigorous questioning,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said in his letter to Miller requesting his appearance.
“I want to make clear that I am inviting you to appear voluntarily,” Cummings wrote. “I am offering you an opportunity to make your case to the committee and the American people about why you — and presumably President Trump — believe it is good policy for the Trump administration to take the actions it has.”
Cummings cited the separation of migrant children from detained parents, a policy Trump withdrew under fire last year; Trump’s threat to move detained migrants to “sanctuary cities,” communities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities and that are mostly in Democratic areas; and the removal of top Homeland Security officials, including Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Cummings said he wanted Miller to testify to his committee on May 1 and gave him until April 24 to respond.
Meanwhile, Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson said he is working on legislation to help stem the flow of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Johnson, R-Wis., said he wants to toughen the initial standard for asylum seekers to “more than a probable chance” they’ll experience violence or persecution in their home countries. Right now, if people can demonstrate “credible fear,” they’re allowed to stay in the U.S. as their cases progress.
Johnson said in an interview that asylum cases must be adjudicated faster and that asylum seekers should be detained while they wait.
Johnson visited this week with migrants in Border Patrol custody on the southwestern border. He said most were seeking a better life and said that while he’s sympathetic to their circumstances, that doesn’t mean they should be granted asylum.
As President Donald Trump rails against an influx of migrants at the border , two of his most influential White House power players are at odds over the future of his immigration policy.
Fresh off orchestrating a shake-up at the Department of Homeland Security , an ascendant Stephen Miller is making a renewed push to impose tougher policies at the border. That’s setting up a face-off with senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has been quietly working on his own immigration reform package for months.
Their divergent approaches to the president’s signature campaign issue speak to more than the ideological gulf between the two men: They echo a long-standing philosophical divide within the West Wing over how to best position the president ahead of his re-election campaign.
Miller, the mastermind of the president’s Muslim travel ban and other hardline immigration policies, has long been the combative ideologue, urging Trump to take ever-more-drastic action to stanch the border flow. Kushner, whose faith in his own careful dealmaking power rivals Miller’s zeal, has spent months meeting with lawmakers and interest groups, trying to put together a package of legal immigration and border security changes that Republicans can rally around heading into the 2020 presidential election.
The resulting parallel tracks — one bent on implementing ever-stricter policies and another meant to forge a more palatable and unifying legislative package — have created uncertainty and confusion both inside the administration and on Capitol Hill about where Trump is headed.
The conflict came into focus during a recent White House meeting when Trump effectively knighted Miller, saying the aide would oversee immigration going forward. But Kushner had already been tasked by the president with coming up with a legal immigration plan, which Trump was briefed on this week.
“We’ll talk to you about it soon,” Trump said Wednesday of Kushner’s plan, labeling it “very exciting, very important for the country.”
Despite the aides’ differing approaches, administration officials insist there is no ill will between Kushner and Miller, who have worked together over the years at the White House and on Trump’s campaign. The two are among the last remaining members of Trump’s tightknit 2016 team to still work at the White House and have been longtime collaborators, co-writing speeches, including the president’s convention address.
But for all that, the two hold fundamentally different views on immigration and notions on how Trump ought to govern.
Miller, the unrelenting hard-liner, sees illegal and legal immigration as existential threats to national security and the American worker, and views Trump as a generational voice willing to make dramatic changes. Kushner, a former Democratic-leaning real estate developer, sees a broken immigration system as another intractable Washington problem that could be solved with the right deal.
That leaves them working at cross purposes at times.
After Trump threatened to shut down the southern border two weeks ago, Kushner was among those whom Homeland Security officials worked with to get the president to back off. Indeed, Kushner is seen within the department as someone who accepts the realities of legal limitations and can be trusted to calm Trump down, not spin him up, as they feel Miller tends to do on immigration, according to three administration officials with knowledge of the dynamic. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations.
Senior administration officials have tried to paint Miller and Kushner’s efforts as complementary — Miller addressing the day-to-day crisis at the border while Kushner looking at longer-term solutions.
“President Trump alone sets immigration policy that’s designed to solve the humanitarian crisis at our border, prevent illegal entry into our country and protect the American people – there’s no daylight between the president’s team as they work to implement that agenda,” spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement.
Trump on Wednesday also challenged the notion that anyone was running his immigration policy other than him.
Asked by reporters whether he had considered tapping Miller to lead Homeland Security, Trump said: “Stephen is an excellent guy. He’s wonderful person.” But, he added, “Frankly, there’s only one person that’s running it. You know who that is? It’s me.”
But former officials said the absence of clear lines of authority and the recent purge of senior leadership at Homeland Security could create confusion, leaving the agency to implement whichever viewpoint wins the day.
“To whom are we listening? Who’s setting the priorities?” said David Lapan, the department’s former press secretary.
Thad Bingel a former senior Homeland Security official, who helped shepherd outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen through her confirmation process, echoed those concerns, saying that when it’s not clear who’s in charge at the White House, departments and subagencies “spin their wheels a lot trying to satisfy multiple masters.”
Raising the stakes further is that Kushner is no mere White House aide — he’s the president’s son-in-law and has proven capable of forcing staff turnover at the highest level. He was instrumental in the departure of two chiefs of staff and the president’s former chief strategist.
Kushner’s latest efforts on immigration date to early January, when Trump asked him to pursue a deal with lawmakers that would win the president more money for his border wall during the government shutdown.
While White House officials caution that the plan has yet to be finalized, aides said it would include “merit based” changes to the legal immigration system as well as proposals on border security that could include modernizing ports of entry and changing the way the country detains and removes people who enter the country illegally.
As part of that effort, Kushner has convened a series of informal listening sessions with almost 50 groups, including anti-immigration advocates, business and conservative groups coming together to talk through ideas. It was the same playbook he used last year on criminal justice reform, which culminated in the only major piece of bipartisan legislation the president has signed.
During those meetings, Kushner was been careful not to tip his hat on his personal views. But participants say they expect the plan to include significant changes, including increases in employment-based green cards. While protections for the hundreds of thousands of so-called Dreamers brought to the country illegally as children were a major point of discussion, a senior administration official said Dreamers are not currently part of the plan.
Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for lower immigration levels, cautioned that unveiling a major plan now would be a distraction from the immediate border crisis.
“The timing couldn’t be worse,” she said. “It’s just the wrong time to be getting into a battle over this when the priority should be on fixing the border crisis and getting our enforcement on track.”
Associated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.
Follow Colvin and Miller Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj and https://twitter.com/zekejmiller
America’s Liar-in-Chief, Donald John Trump, dispatched one of his other liars to the Sunday news talk shows this weekend, leading The Washington Post’s fact-checking service to issue “bushels of Pinocchio’s to Stephen Miller’s usual vote fraud false claim that, itself, is fraud.
Miller, the 31-year-old right-wing fanatic credited with crafting the now court-banned travel and Muslim bans disguised as an “executive order,” never met a lie he can’t tell or repeat over and over.
White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller appeared on ABC’s “The Week” on Sunday, spouting a bunch of false talking points on alleged voter fraud. (He also repeated similar claims on other Sunday talk shows.) To his credit, host George Stephanopoulus repeatedly challenged Miller, noting that he had provided no evidence to support his claims. But Miller charged ahead, using the word “fact” three times in a vain effort to bolster his position.
Miller also said:
I can tell you this, voter fraud is a serious problem in this country. You have millions of people who are registered in two states or who are dead who are registered to vote. And you have 14 percent of noncitizens, according to academic research, at a minimum, are registered to vote, which is an astonishing statistic.
One of the “two states” cited by Miller is New Hampshire. His claim of “academic research” is the 2012 Pew Center on the States. The author of that study, David Becker, says:
We found millions of out of date registration records due to people moving or dying, but found no evidence that voter fraud resulted.
Trump, Miller and other aides misrepresent an Old Dominion study by professors from 2008 and 2010 even though updates to that study refute the the claims of the President’s administration.
Jesse Richmond, one of the researchers who wrote the Old Dominion study that Trump and Miller cite as “proof” that 14 percent of noncitizens are registered to vote in the United States, says the report does not say that.
“There has been a tendency to misread out results as proof of massive voter fraud,” Richmond says. “We don’t think they are.”
Mark Twain once said: “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies and statistics.”
If Samuel Clemens (Twain’s real name) were alive today, he would probably amend his statement to say: There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies and anything Donald Trump says.”
Miller and Trump claimed they have “enormous evidence” of “massive voter fraud.”
“The White House continues to provide zero evidence to back up its claims of voter fraud,” writes Kessler. “Officials instead retreat to the same bogus talking points that have been repeatedly shown to be false.”
Researchers who make their livings locating data that shows, nof fantasy but fact is a lost concept in the Trump White House and among the lemmings on the Republican side of Congress who genuflect to the madman from Trump Tower.
The facts show that Stephen Miller, like Donald Trump, is another damn liar in this disaster of a Presidential administration.