White House senior adviser Stephen Miller has pushed through a “secret” plan to recruit immigration agents into a refugee agency that deals with unaccompanied migrant children. the washington post reports.
Miller, who argued that the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) was being exploited by families who hired traffickers to bring their children across the border, pushed for for the agency to allow embedded ICE agents to collect information from the children’s parents in order to have them deported, according to the report.
Senior HHS officials rejected Miller’s plan, six current and former officials told The Post, but agreed to allow ICE agents to collect fingerprints and biometric data from adults who pick up children at the facility. ICE could then use the data to identify and deport them.
The plan, which has not been announced, is aimed at circumventing laws that prohibit the refugee agency from being used to enforce deportation. Previous Trump administration schemes to allow ICE access to the refugee program were met with opposition from senior officials over concerns it could deter families from claiming their children for fear of arrest.
ICE and HHS officials told The Post that the information collected would be used to screen adults claiming children for “red flags” and criminal convictions. But officials said the data would not be used to arrest family members who come forward to claim unaccompanied children.
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told the outlet that the agency has better tools than HHS to investigate sponsors of unaccompanied children, “including better capabilities to identify fraudulent documents or documents obtained through fraud.”
Miller developed the plan after congressional Democrats sought to block a similar scheme that led to a drop in the number of sponsors claiming children and an influx in the number of children in government custody. TO 2019 funding bill explicitly prohibited the Department of Homeland Security from using child sponsor data for ICE deportation target lists.
The measure said that no federal money “may be used by the Secretary of Homeland Security to detain, remove, refer for a decision to initiate removal proceedings, or initiate removal proceedings against a sponsor, potential sponsor, or member of a household. of a sponsor or potential sponsor of an unaccompanied alien child.”
Cox claimed that the new plan did not violate the law. He told The Post that once a sponsor’s application is denied, “that individual is no longer considered a sponsor or potential sponsor” and can therefore be arrested.
Cox acknowledged that the program may result in children being placed in government custody for longer periods of End-shutdown, but insisted that increased screening “must take precedence over speed of placement in what ultimately instance, it may be an unsafe environment for the child.”
The plan comes after previous attempts to allow information sharing between ORR and ICE met with opposition from HHS higher-ups. Miller developed the new plan with ORR Director Jonathan Hayes, but HHS officials objected to top ICE official Caleb Vitiello being temporarily assigned to work at ORR. Vitiello had worked with Miller in the White House. White House officials have complained that HHS officials have repeatedly “sabotaged” their plans, according to The Post.
Miller has gained increasing influence over the Trump administration’s immigration policy after he led a purge of top DHS officials earlier this year. At the same End-shutdown, more than 100 Democrats called for his removal after former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh leaked hundreds of emails showing Miller promoting white nationalist and white supremacist outlets while working as an aide to the then-senator. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
“What Stephen Miller sent me in those emails has become policy in the Trump administration,” McHugh told the Southern Poverty Law Center, which obtained the emails.
Miller denied being a white nationalist in an interview with fox business on Friday, calling the allegation “deeply offensive and completely outrageous.”
Miller said that the Democrats were the bigots.
“This is an attempt by the Democratic Party to attack and demonize a Jewish staff member, and make no mistake, there is a deep vein of anti-Semitism running through the Democratic Party today,” he claimed, despite his own emails they show him widely promoting hateful content that disparaged people of color.
On Friday, a group of 25 Jewish Democratic members of Congress called on President Donald Trump to fire Miller.
“Your documentation of virulently anti-immigrant white nationalist tropes is totally unacceptable and disqualifying for a government employee,” they said in a letter to the president obtained by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “We are also deeply concerned that your Administration is claiming that legitimate criticism of Miller is anti-Semitic simply because Miller is Jewish. Nothing could be further from the truth”.