The Slatest

Trump Aide Stephen Miller on Separating Children at Border: “It Was a Simple Decision”

A boy and father from Honduras are taken into custody by Border Patrol agents near the U.S.-Mexico Border on June 12, 2018 near Mission, Texas.
A boy and father from Honduras are taken into custody by Border Patrol agents near the U.S.-Mexico Border on June 12, 2018 near Mission, Texas.
John Moore/Getty Images

The White House seems to be divided amid the increasing public outrage over separating children from their guardians at the border, reports the New York Times. Although the White House had hinted that it would go down that path last year, President Donald Trump ended up backtracking. Like his predecessors, the idea of ripping crying children from the arms of their parents simply seemed too cruel, nevermind politically dangerous. But some in the administration, most notably senior policy adviser Stephen Miller continued to push the idea. Now Miller has emerged as one of the staunch defenders of the controversial move.

“No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement,” Miller told the Times in an interview. “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.”

As the outrage grows, so do the divisions within the White House, including from Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary. She has clashed so frequently with Trump over the issue that she has come close to resigning. And outside the administration, the criticism is fierce. “This is not a zero tolerance policy, this is a zero humanity policy, and we can’t let it go on,” Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat of Oregon, said. In a grim Twitter post, former National Security Agency chief Michael Hayden wrote, “Other governments have separated mothers and children.” The message was accompanied by a photo of Auschwitz.

Trump has expressed some misgivings about the policy but has blamed Democrats and suggested on Twitter that it is a negotiating tool to get Democrats to agree to his demands. “Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!” Trump wrote in a tweet. The increasing outrage over the policy comes as new official figures show almost 2,000 children have been separated from their guardians at the border in the six weeks ending on May 31.

If you’re horrified and want to fight back against the policy of separating families at the border, Slate has put together a list of groups to support.