In the summer of 2017, there was a group of White House staff in Paris who had some rare downtime during Donald Trump's first trip to France as president.
When the Trump officials sucked up on the banks of the Seine on a July evening, they stepped back from the US to make a phone call. It was Stephen Miller, the then 31-year-old chief adviser to the president, editor and advocate of immigration policy.
As the other officers watched, Miller spent several minutes urging administrative officials at the other end of the line to deport one person who had been arrested by the immigration authorities.
The episode, told by two former government officials with direct knowledge of the matter, seemed bizarre to some of Miller's colleagues. At that time, they were familiar with Miller's volatile mood and his pivotal role in Trump's immigration policy. Nevertheless, the aspiration of a young White House to determine the fate of a single inmate was an astonishing sign of his deep involvement in the federal government's immigration system.
The former Senate Advisor is a key architect of Trump's rigorous immigration policy – a controversial role that was reinforced when he recently helped clean-up ministry interior ministry officials who considered border security too weak. Miller helped shape several explosive Trump actions, including an order banning travel from several Muslim nations in early 2017, and Trump's crusade for a Mexican border wall. Recently, he supported the idea of relocating undocumented immigrants to Sanctuary Cities within the US, a program termed political retaliation by democratic opponents.
While Miller's influence on immigration is now well known, his granular interest in people crossing the US border and the seemingly unprecedented steps he has taken to uncover information about her personal background are less well-known.
For example, shortly after Trump's inauguration, Miller began calling US Immigration and Customs (ICE) to insist that they include more details – such as the full name and pending criminal charges – in press releases about immigrants detained who have been imprisoned or planned to deport, according to three current and former DHS officials.
"One day, he wanted us to publish press releases every day about the people we arrested and their criminal status. We did a dance all the time, just to stay in a legal place, "recalls a former DHS official.
US officials say such a thing has never been done. If the individuals had not been convicted or charged, the publication of such information could constitute a violation of privacy and may deprive them of a fair hearing, said Leon Fresco, immigration lawyer and high-ranking Justice Department official under President Barack Obama.
A little-noticed provision in an executive executive drafted in January 2017 during the president's transition with Miller's submissions gave the administration a potential defense against allegations that the government violated immigrants' rights to privacy. The provision stipulated that federal authorities should write new rules excluding "persons who are not US citizens or lawful permanent residents" from the protection of the Federal Data Protection Act. DHS updated its policy in April 2017.
Administrative officials largely disagreed with Miller's efforts. Yet, there were signs that his quest for a vivid account of what he saw as a threat to undocumented immigrants had an impact. For example, in July 2017, officials from the DHS and the Ministry of Justice attended a White House press conference showing pictures of tattoos by MS-13 gang members, including enough of a supposed gang member's face to identify him. The officers also discussed concrete ongoing criminal cases that alleged alleged violence in connection with gangs.
Former ICE director Tom Homan told POLITICO that he and his colleagues often participated in discussions "at the department level about what we could and could not do about people."
But Homan, who is currently in a mix of candidates currently running the DHS, said he had not recalled specific requests from Miller during his previous tenure at the agency.
Others describe another reality by saying that Miller's interest in fine-grained immigration policies has led him to pressure middle- and low-level bureaucrats that would not normally be owned by one of the president's White House staffers.
A former DHS official said Miller frequently telephoned administrative officials at all levels. He usually urges them to make changes to immigration rules and regulations and calls for increased enforcement. Sometimes he is also interested in an individual case.
"We tried to protect as many people as possible from Miller and his concerns," said the former DHS representative. "If he started to go downstairs and call a civil servant by accident, we'd have to say," If Stephen calls you, pick it up right now and do not answer. "
Miller has also personalized the immigration policy in the White House debates. As reported by POLITICO in August, the Trump employee has often initiated meetings with specific horror stories about innocent Americans who have been attacked or murdered by non-citizens. "We need to save the Americans from these immigrant criminals!" Recalled a former NSC representative to Miller, who said in an internal meeting.
A Miller claim that DHS officials are involved in a Trump administration program is known as the "Victim of Immigration Crime Engagement" (VOICE). A former government official said Miller pointed out that the DHS is raising the bureau and Barbara Gonzalez, a public affairs officer in charge of supervising the VOICE bureau, is more likely to attend White House events.
Several officials protested Miller's efforts, arguing that the bureau should support the victims and their families so as not to demonize immigrants by disclosing details of the crimes committed by some.
The year-end figures provided by the ICE showed that the agency carried out 158,581 arrests in the 2018 financial year. Among them were 105,140 people convicted and another 32,977 with pending criminal charges. However, the agency does not distinguish between violent and non-violent crimes.
The White House has repeatedly cited detainees from the ICE to establish a link between undocumented immigration and violent crime. Trump even claimed in his February State of the Union speech that "thousands of Americans were brutally killed by those who entered our country illegally," even though he did not provide data to support the claim.
Some White House allies supporting Trump's immigration agenda say that Miller has nothing to complain about his huge involvement in DHS affairs. His supervision was necessary because many officials of the DHS apparently wanted to undermine the president. They add that Miler is not self-employed. he implements an agenda designed by the president himself.
"The only reason this may be unusual for immigration is that the former White Houses did not care so much about it as Trump did," said Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Krikorian added, "Direct pressure from the White House is even more important because the bureaucracy on the immigration issue is trying to prevent the president from achieving its goals."
The White House and Miller did not respond to comments.
Miller's defense attorneys at ICE and other parts of the administration say the 2017 Amendment to the Data Protection Act made it easier to defend the arrest or deportation of undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds.
The new guidelines can "create the same conditions in the media with some of these high-level cases, in which the ICE is accused of finding someone because of its activists," said a DHS official detective story and other derogatory information, there is certainly one Another reason why ICE would be interested. "
This effort began almost immediately. Internal Trump administration emails, received from Vanderbilt University law students and published by The Intercept at the end of 2017, show how ICE officials across the country have been urged to keep the criminal records of those they detained emphasized: three monstrous cases,"Wrote an ICE official in an email to agency offices across the country. "If a place has only one monstrous case, then add an outrageous case from another city."
Some in the DHS feel deeply uncomfortable about using state resources to label individual migrants as dangerous.
"There has to be a compelling reason why you want to do it, and nothing I've heard even goes up to that level remotely," a former DHS official said. "You are talking about the Federal Government addressing a specific person. There is something wrong with that. "
A former White House official said Miller also urged the White House press shop to release more regular press releases and statements on the number of migrants arrested at the border, especially those with a potential criminal record.
"Miller desperately wanted to grab the attention of people who were here illegally," the former White House official said.
"It is no exaggeration to say that Stephen Miller wakes up every morning and thinks about illegal immigration and thinks about it." This person has added.
Ted Hesson contributed to the coverage.