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“Hatemonger”: Author Jean Guerrero on Stephen Miller, Trump’s White Nationalist Immigration Henchman

StoryAugust 26, 2020
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A new book on Stephen Miller, the architect of the Trump administration’s unprecedented attack on immigrant communities and the immigration system, describes the White House adviser as a dangerous man bringing white nationalist ideology to the highest levels of government. “This is what shapes the immigration policy,” says Jean Guerrero, author of “Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda.” Miller, descended from Jewish immigrants, has been obsessed with fighting multiculturalism since his teenage years and has steadily climbed the right-wing political ladder to become one of Donald Trump’s most trusted associates. He is credited with many of Trump’s most vicious anti-immigrant policies, including separating immigrant children from their parents. “Stephen Miller primarily has been targeting families,” says Guerrero. “It becomes clear that for Stephen Miller, this is not about national security, this is not about keeping out criminals. This is about reengineering the ethnic flows into this country to keep Brown and Black families out.”

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! We’re breaking with convention. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

President Trump presided over a highly unusual — possibly illegal — naturalization ceremony at the White House during Tuesday night’s Republican National Convention, as tens of thousands of immigrants seeking to become citizens face massive backlogs. Acting homeland security chief Chad Wolf, who Trump has nominated for permanent director, read the naturalization oath.

One of the night’s speakers, Mary Ann Mendoza, the mother of a man killed by a drunk driver who was an immigrant, was removed from the lineup at the last minute last night after she retweeted an anti-Semitic QAnon conspiracy theory. Mendoza was part of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, or VOICE, office, established under Trump by Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s key advisers, a mastermind of his anti-immigration message and policies.

For more, we’re joined by Jean Guerrero, award-winning investigative journalist who reports on immigration and profiles Miller in her new book, Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda.

Welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us, Jean.

JEAN GUERRERO: Great to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: If you can start off by talking about the woman who was removed from the lineup last night? You have met her several times. Talk about where and her connections to the White House, to Stephen Miller, to Steve Bannon and others.

JEAN GUERRERO: Yeah, I met Mendoza several times, a couple times in San Diego, one time at a border wall symposium that was organized by Steve Bannon to promote his, you know, fraudulent border wall scheme that he was recently arrested for, for allegedly defrauding donors. And she was there. She was one of the speakers. She’s on the advisory board for that project. And, you know, she, for a long time, has been going around talking about her son, who died in a car crash with a person who was here illegally.

And Stephen Miller, whom my book is about, has repeatedly given her a platform, you know, during the 2016 campaign and then in the White House during roundtables, to spew completely fabricated statistics about the alleged crimes of migrants. You know, she talks about how thousands and thousands of people are killed every year by people in the country illegally, when, in fact, if you look at the data, it’s maybe a couple or three, average, over the past several years. And, you know, she stands for this demonization —

AMY GOODMAN: You met her in El Paso? She gave a speech there right before the El Paso massacre, mainly of Latinx immigrants?

JEAN GUERRERO: Yes, exactly. That symposium was organized just a few days before the El Paso massacre, and it was live-streamed to tens of thousands of people who were watching these right-wing influencers, including Mendoza, you know, hatemongering about immigrants and urging citizens to take things into their own hands to stop the, quote-unquote, “invasion” of migrants. And then, just a few days later, you saw a white terrorist come in and kill 23 people, imagining that he was saving the country from some kind of invasion.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, and speaking of this notion of invasion, could you talk about how Stephen Miller has built his career, really, around anti-immigration and immigration restrictionism, particularly the role, for instance, that Cordelia Scaife May, the reclusive billionaire philanthropist who bankrolled much of the immigration restrictionist movement — I think about $180 million she donated to the groups, like the Center for Immigration Studies, Federation of American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA — all groups which Miller is very close to?

JEAN GUERRERO: Exactly. These are eugenicists who believe in the genetic superiority of whites, who believe in population control for nonwhite people, and who funded these groups that, as I show in my book Hatemonger, Stephen Miller pulled policies directly from these groups, you know, and this is what shapes the immigration policy.

I mean, you mentioned the naturalization ceremony that took place at the RNC last night. And that’s really meant to create this dichotomy, this false dichotomy between legal and illegal immigration, that does not exist in the Trump administration. The Trump administration likes to say that they’re going after criminals and cartels, and that’s what the RNC was meant to convey.

But if you look at the person who is crafting immigration policy for President Trump, it’s Stephen Miller. And Stephen Miller primarily has been targeting families — families from Africa, families from Latin America — and mostly people who have broken no laws — asylum seekers, refugees, restricting green card access.

And if you look at why, and if you connect the dots between what he’s doing and his influences, as I try to do in the book, it becomes clear that for Stephen Miller, this is not about national security, this is not about keeping out criminals. This is about reengineering the ethnic flows into this country to keep Brown and Black families out, because he was radicalized at a very young age in this belief, that you now see permeating the Republican Party and that you see Trump promoting, this belief that Brown and Black people pose some kind of existential threat to America.

You know, Stephen Miller, as I show in the book, at a very young age, when he was a teenager going through a difficult time in his life, came into contact with multiple extremists, who introduced him to this fantasy that he had to save the country from, you know, the Democratic Party, partnering with Muslims, Mexicans and other people of color, who he — because he was exposed to misleading crime statistics, like the ones that they put out systematically now, that paint Brown and Black people as somehow innately more violent than white people, he was radicalized to believe that he was somehow saving the United States.

And you now see this hatemongering, this apocalyptic demonization and scapegoating permeating the Republican Party, permeating the RNC themes. And, you know, Stephen Miller, the most powerful adviser in the White House, the top speechwriter, senior policy adviser, is the man who is behind all of this.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: One of the folks who did speak at the RNC, unlike Mendoza, who was pulled at the last moment, was Charlie Kirk. And when he spoke on Monday, he talked about President Trump being, quote, “the bodyguard of Western civilization.” And he said that the American way of life is being dismantled by a group of bitter, vengeful, deceitful activists. Tell us about Charlie Kirk.

JEAN GUERRERO: Yeah, Charlie Kirk, he runs this organization Turning Point USA, which runs this watchlist of liberal professors that are supposedly some kind of danger to society. And this, again, speaks to Stephen Miller’s influence, because Stephen Miller’s mentor, from the time that he was a child, who was feeding him policies, feeding him talking points for Donald Trump, throughout his life, according to private correspondence that I obtained for the book, David Horowitz, is the person who started this idea of watchlists in the Republican Party, where, in 2006, he published a watchlist of liberal professors who allegedly pose some kind of apocalyptic threat to society.

And, you know, David Horowitz, he shaped Stephen Miller’s career. He’s a man who believes that the only real racism is racism against white men. And he teaches young conservatives, like Stephen Miller, at a very young age, how to use the language of the civil rights movement against the civil rights movement, so calling people of color and liberals “the real racists” or “the real oppressors” and painting white conservative men as the oppressed minority, as victims of discrimination, as you see with people like Charlie Kirk and throughout the RNC, this idea that Republicans and white men are being canceled, that there’s this horrible cancel culture that is trying to eliminate freedom of speech and tear down the Constitution, when, I mean, in reality, what’s happening is the federal government is using these very anti-democratic, anti-constitutional measures to suppress opposition in the streets — I mean, just the presence of federal forces in Portland, which again goes to Stephen Miller’s influence, trying to cancel the voices of antiracist protesters, snatching them off the streets in unmarked vehicles and arresting journalists. And it’s using deflection and inverting the arguments of the left.

It’s psychological warfare, which I delve into in the book Hatemonger, because Stephen Miller’s mentor taught him how to do this at a very young age —

AMY GOODMAN: And we want to —

JEAN GUERRERO: — how to launder white —

AMY GOODMAN: Keep going.

JEAN GUERRERO: — how to — he taught him how to launder white supremacist ideas through the language of heritage, through the language of economics and through the language of national security, in order to make it palatable to the mainstream, which is what you see in the RNC, you know, laundering these ideas through this idea that you’re protecting American jobs, protecting people from criminals, in order to appeal to people who don’t consider themselves to be racist, but very much pulling these white supremacist ideas and laundering them.

AMY GOODMAN: Jean Guerrero, I wanted to get your response to the naturalization ceremony that was performed in the White House, this at a time when President Trump has signed what? Something like 400 executive orders against immigrants. And the similarity you point out in your book Hatemonger between Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, their upbringing, which goes to that history that you’re talking about with his mentor, etc., and his father?

JEAN GUERRERO: Yes, exactly. I mean, Stephen Miller gets Donald Trump in a way that no one else in the White House does. And this is rooted partly in his childhood, which I delve into in the book. You know, his father was a real estate investor who was plagued by bankruptcies and legal disputes related to his real estate company. He was described in court documents as a masterpiece of evasion and manipulation. So, I’m told that Stephen Miller, you know, because he grew up in a family that was very similar to the family of Donald Trump, he gets Donald Trump.

And he’s able to have an outsize influence, because he consistently pushes him in the most aggressive direction, whether it’s on the rhetoric, whether it’s on the immigration policy, you know, focusing on asylum seekers and refugees instead of criminals and cartels. And this aggressiveness is something that, you know, just innately speaks to Donald Trump. Throughout his life, Trump has talked about the importance of being a killer in society, having killer instincts. And Stephen Miller shares his instinct for violence and has his hands on the pulse of Trump’s most violent voting base, because he has been reading white supremacist and white nationalist literature for a very long time, and promoting it through right-wing outlets, such as Breitbart.

And, you know, this radicalization — because he’s this extremist adviser who always pushes him in a more extreme and aggressive direction, Stephen Miller is responsible for the radicalization of Donald Trump and the radicalization of the Republican Party. Oftentimes Trump was willing to go in a more moderate direction, you know, protecting DREAMers, but Stephen Miller would always push him, and, “No, it doesn’t matter that these are migrant children. It doesn’t matter that these are families who have broken no laws. We need to go after them.”

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And could you talk about the importance of Miller that Trump sees, in terms of his first election, the role that Miller played in — you discuss in your book, in terms of marshaling the support of the unions of employees that deal with border control?

JEAN GUERRERO: Well, yes. And this speaks to the naturalization ceremony, you know, having federal government officials like Chad Wolf participating in this very political process in a questionable way. I mean, Stephen Miller, he basically politicized the Department of Homeland Security. From day one of his time in the White House, he narrowed the focus to become a political tool for Donald Trump, as I show in the book.

And he did this by securing — during the campaign, he secured for Trump the very critical Border Patrol union endorsement. The Border Patrol had never endorsed a presidential candidate before. And Stephen Miller, as I show in the book, promised them a direct line to the White House, a direct role in shaping immigration policy, if they endorsed Donald Trump. And so you saw them endorse Donald Trump.

And this is why you see a disproportionate impact on families. The Border Patrol, at the time, was very upset about the influx of families from Central America. They no longer felt that they had the same role of warriors and vanguards at the border, you know, cracking down on criminals and cartels. And so they wanted someone who was going to really go after — you know, keep families from coming to the United States at all. And this is how Stephen Miller made himself a key player for the Trump team, by getting him those endorsements.

And also, critically, you know, Trump’s only immigration proposal going in, when he first announced his candidacy, was the border wall. And immigration restrictionists who had been following this issue for a long time know — they kind of rolled their eyes at that. They knew that, you know, we’ve had —

AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.

JEAN GUERRERO: — barriers for a long time and haven’t done much. And he is the one who made immigration policy, you know, derived it from eugenics groups, white supremacist groups, to keep out families.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we clearly have to do more on this, so we’re doing Part 2, and we’re posting it online at democracynow.org. Our guest is Jean Guerrero, the award-winning investigative journalist. Her book is called Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda.

That does it for our show. Special thanks to Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Libby Rainey. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Wear a mask. Stay safe.

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