The New Stephen Miller

When President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday rolled out its so-called “public charge” rule, which would allow the government to deny permanent residence to legal immigrants receiving public assistance, whispers of Stephen Miller were immediate.

Miller, the 33-year-old Trump adviser, has crafted many of the White House’s most controversial immigration policies over the last two-and-half years, and sure enough, when acting Citizenship and Immigration Services director Ken Cuccinelli announced the plan, which is scheduled to take effect in 60 days, reports detailing Miller’s handiwork were not far behind. It was as though Cuccinelli, in briefing journalists on the rule, had served as little more than a suited vessel for Miller’s worldview. But to shift focus away from Cuccinelli is to ignore the very real convictions he brings to bear in this administration.

A former senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to be frank, told me that one of the chief challenges in staffing this administration has been finding people whose fervor for hard-line immigration policies matches that of the president’s, and whose resume includes even one line of government experience. Miller has thus found himself on an island at times in his attempt to execute his more extreme visions for the nation’s immigration system. (A screaming match on the topic of, say, the proposed Mexican border wall is not unusual, the source, who was party to one such exchange, told me.)

Enter Cuccinelli. The former Virginia attorney general joined the Trump administration in late May. His background includes trying to eliminate birthright citizenship, questioning whether Barack Obama was born in the United States, and proposing to make speaking Spanish on the job a fireable offense. Accordingly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell advised the president against nominating Cuccinelli to any post that required Senate confirmation. To some, Cuccinelli’s arrival meant that Miller had, at long last, found the consummate ideological ally. (A representative for Cuccinelli declined my phone-interview request with the director.)

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Cuccinelli may well have been created in a Trump-branded petri dish. He’s spent decades advocating for far-right positions on a variety of social issues, and the 50-year-old practicing Catholic enjoys widespread support among conservative evangelicals. Cuccinelli used his 2013 loss to Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race to reinvent himself as a conservative pundit, and, …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

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