Elections have consequences, and when white nationalists get elected, those consequences can be catastrophic.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments on the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era program that shielded some undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation, as well as allowed them to work. DACA, as the program is known, is rooted in a sense of compassion, as well as by the idea that it’s unjust to deport people from the only country they’ve ever called home because — more than a decade ago — their parents didn’t have documents to cross the border into a nation of immigrants.
Trump, from whom compassion is anathema, has worked to end the program, but he has been stopped, thus far, by a legal battle has gone all the way to the Supreme Court.
Trump tweeted about DACA Tuesday morning, ahead of the arguments, and said, as he’s wont to do, some things that aren’t true and some other things that aren’t coherent.
— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) November 12, 2019
Underpinning that inaccurate incoherence, however, is the base-level white nationalism that underscores so much of Trump’s efforts — particularly related to immigration. This is a president who said he’d like more immigrants from somewhere like [very white] Norway and not from what he described as “shithole countries” populated largely by nonwhite residents. That’s useful context for assessing Trump’s motives when he moves to deport a group made up largely of nonwhite people who, despite not being born in the United States, have spent nearly their entire lives in the country.
Despite all this, there have, at times, been indications Trump would back off on his push to scrap DACA, either out of a fleeting moment of compassion or in exchange for policy concessions elsewhere. But when Trump got wobbly, there was always someone there to keep him committed to deporting de facto Americans. That someone is Stephen Miller, a Trump adviser and immigration hardliner.
What has Miller so excited about scrapping DACA? White nationalism.
On Tuesday, as the Supreme Court heard arguments on DACA, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch released excerpts from a trove of emails Miller sent to Breitbart prior to the 2016 election. The excerpts provide a candid look at the extent of Miller’s white nationalism, which informs just about every aspect of U.S. immigration policy. Here are some examples:
Miller recommended white nationalist literature and websites: When Kate McHugh, the former Breitbart reporter who leaked the emails, asked Miller if Hurricane Patricia could drive refugees into the U.S. from Mexico, Miller said “100 percent” before lamenting that they could get temporary protected status. He stressed that this needed to be a “big” story before linking to VDARE, a white nationalist website that, as Hatewatch notes, “traffics in the ‘white genocide’ or ‘great replacement’ myth.”
On multiple occasions, Miller recommends the French book The Camp of the Saints, an alarmingly racist novel about a group of Indians, led by a character named “Turd Eater,” that invades France. The book became a central text of the white nationalist community. Weeks after mentioning it on September 6th, 2015, Breitbart editor Julia Hahn published an article titled “‘Camp of the Saints’ Seen Mirrored in Pope’s Message.” As Hatewatch notes, Hahn now works in the White House.
Miller complained that some retailers removed Confederate flags after the massacre in Charleston: Miller fumed to McHugh about how retailers like Amazon ceased selling Confederate flag merchandise following the 2015 massacre that left nine African Americans dead in a Charleston, South Carolina, church. “‘22.6 percent of Southern men who were between the ages of 20 and 24 in 1860 lost their lives because of the war,'” Miller wrote, linking to a History.com article. He and McHugh later bandied about the hypocrisy of Amazon for pulling down Confederate merchandise while continuing to sell “Commie flags.”
Miller also railed at length against the vandalization of Confederate statues. “what do the [Confederate monument] vandals say to the people fighting and dying overseas in uniform right now who are carrying on a seventh or eighth generation of military service in their families, stretching back to our founding?” he wrote. Trump echoed Miller’s beliefs after the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, reignited a national backlash against Confederate monuments. “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” the president tweeted.
Miller praised President Calvin Coolidge, whose policies were touted by Hitler: Miller repeatedly praised President Calvin Coolidge and complained that history has not given him his due. As Hatewatch notes, Coolidge is a white nationalist icon who condemned race mixing. His Immigration Act of 1924, which all but eliminated immigration from certain parts of the world, was described by Hitler in Mein Kampf as a model for Nazi Germany.
In September of 2015, Miller complained that Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham were being soft on refugees in an email with the subject line, “Tucker asks McCain, Graham how refugees are good for Americans.” After discussing their appearance, he wrote:
“this is a good chance to expose that ridiculous statue of liberty myth. Poem has nothing to do with it: [Link] Indeed, two decades after poem was added, Coolidge shut down immigration. No one said he was violating the Statue of Liberty’s purpose. BTW: have you noticed how [Ben] Carson and [Carly] Fiorina are preening [Marco] Rubio-like daily in front of the media to show them how they are good and decent Republicans unlike Mr. Trump? Finally, speaking of refugees, did you see the expanded list I emailed of foreign-born terrorists on Friday afternoon?”
The exchange inspired McHugh to publish a story titled: “Lindsey Graham: Pretty Poem Says USA Must Adopt Unknown Muslim Men from Jihad-Syria.”
As the email excerpts make clear, Breitbart’s coverage was largely and often directly informed by Miller’s views. After Trump took office, these views similarly informed U.S. immigration policy. “What Stephen Miller sent to me in those emails has become policy at the Trump administration,” McHugh told Hatewatch.
The Supreme Court, now, will decide if that policy becomes the law of the land.