STEPHEN MILLER



STEPHEN (MADMAN) MILLER RATED DANGEROUS

AND THE DR. GOEBBELS OF THE TRUMP PARTY

Stephen Miller is an American far-far-far-right political activist and scumbag who serves as a senior advisor for policy for President Donald Trump, He was previously the communications director for then-Senator Jeff Sessions. 

Born: August 23, 1985 (age 32 years), Santa Monica, CA
Office:
 Senior Advisor to the President of the United States since 2017
Parents: Miriam Glosser Miller, Michael Darrow Miller


LOUDMOUTH - SPINNER - TRUMP ALTER EGO 
•  Stephen Miller is a senior advisor to President Donald Trump. Prior to his current appointment, he was the communications director for then-Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, who as of February 2017 is Attorney General of the United States. 

•  Staff members on Capitol Hill recall Stephen Miller, the 31-year-old White House adviser behind many of President Trump’s most contentious executive orders, as the guy from Jeff Sessions’ office who made their inboxes cry for mercy.

•  Recently someone said if Bannon was normal where in the universe do we plant this guy, certainly not the part God Made.  Much closer to the Klingon Empire, and Rugasr Badzukoo, current Klingon President said don’t drop this asshole on us...

•  As a top aide to Mr. Sessions, the conservative Alabama senator, Mr. Miller dispatched dozens and dozens of bombastic emails to congressional staff members and reporters in early 2013 when the Senate was considering a big bipartisan immigration overhaul. Mr. Miller slammed the evils of “foreign labor” and pushed around nasty news articles on proponents of compromise, like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.


HEAD SCUMBAG OF IMMIGRATION SOLUTIONS
•  Trump signaled his appreciation for Miller’s performance on Twitter.  “Congratulations Stephen Miller- on representing me this morning on the various Sunday morning shows,” he wrote on Sunday. “Great job!”  

That alone horrified Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, two media figures who have waged war on Miller after Trump signed the executive order to restrict immigration and travel from high-risk countries in the Middle East.

“The White House has got to stop embarrassing themselves by putting this guy up. … That is the worst performance of anybody — that made Susan Rice the Sunday after Benghazi look smooth,” Scarborough said on his Monday morning show.    

After playing a highlight clip of Miller’s performance, Scarborough threw up his hands and dropped his pen in horror as Brzezinski appeared speechless:  “It’s so much worse than I ever thought,” Scarborough stated.  Brzezinski mockingly referred to Miller as a “lad” and began a hashtag campaign on Twitter to throw him out.

“The Steven Miller interviews this morning on all the Sunday shows were frightening!  I’m sorry Mr President.  No.. A really bad sign,” she wrote. 

She continued, “If the White House thinks that is a person they want to put out front-its beyond sad for our country.  First Kellyanne now this. Embarrassed for USA.”


PREVIOUS SCREW-UPS AND IDIOTS HE REPRESENTED
•  He worked for Senator Jeff Sessions
•  Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
•  Congressman John Shadegg

Three extreme, radical,  incoherent, sick confused politicians known for some really stupid things.   If he gave them their cannon fodder they truly were really stupid for keeping him around. 


TWITTER AND NIT -TWITS
Last week, White House advisor Stephen Miller’s cell phone number was shared widely on social media after being published online, and the response from Twitter was remarkably swift and thorough: The platform not only locked or suspended the accounts of users who shared the number, but also those who linked to the article that had doxed Miller.

ED: Too bad the app designed to fry his brain failed, better luck next time.

If there’s anything surprising about Twitter’s response, particularly for those who have watched harassment campaigns of women and minorities continue on the service for years with relative impunity, it was how quick and decisive Twitter managed to be in this particular situation. Although Twitter has taken numerous steps in recent years to address harassment on the platform, its rules remain vague, its enforcement lackadaisical and haphazard at best — and its tolerance of abuse by powerful users something still far closer to policy than the opposite.

The response of many Twitter users, on the other hand, should come as no surprise to anyone who has witnessed the service’s tremendous capacity to generate humor, innovation, and memeification. The phone number was rapidly unraveled to its component parts, spliced and digested into a series of jokes, images and even puzzles designed to continue sharing the number while dodging Twitter’s censors.

That Miller had likely long since handed off the phone to the Secret Service after the initial deluge of calls and texts by then was somewhat besides the point. For many, particularly those enraged and shuddering in horror at the cruel treatment of immigrants and families at the American border, sharing the number provided not only a moment of dark humor or catharsis, but something even more potent: a tiny, red-hot piece of vulnerability that they could exploit against the architect of the policy ripping weeping children from their parents’ arms, the man who reportedly “enjoys seeing those pictures at the border,” the man who had called it a “simple decision.”

ED:  The Secret Service should have handed it back to him and tell him to go fix it yourself.

As with the hand-wringing around the punching of Nazis, this touched off a debate around fairness and hypocrisy: If you oppose doxing as a repugnant tool of harassment, how can you ethically celebrate its use, even when it is deployed against someone you hate or oppose? Rules, after all, are rules or as Miller himself has said so often in defense of the family separation policy, “ The law is the law”. 

It’s an attractive line of thinking for those who find comfort in absolutes, the black and white of right and wrong. Faced with the spiraling complications of gray areas, there’s something that can seem both fair and personally righteous about enforcing rules as rigidly and dispassionately as possible — even when it leads to Inspector Javert levels of obsession with law and order regardless of context or human cost.

It’s how Trump managed to reframe a neo-Nazi rally where a woman was murdered by a white supremacist into a conflict with “some very fine people on both sides”; it’s how Twitter itself managed to cling to the swaying, decaying mast of free speech at all costs for so very long — even when the cost was persistent brutalization, often of its most vulnerable users.

Twitter should certainly enforce its rules fairly and demand ethical behavior from its users. But if it claims to do so, we should examine exactly what fairness and ethical behavior means in this context. Rather than the sort of “simple decision” framing that Miller himself disingenuously invokes as a call for order, it is a very difficult question indeed, one that involves the complex dynamics of social power and speech, and the differing responsibilities and roles of governments, private companies and individuals.


EXCEPTIONS FOR THE POWERFUL ARE BUILT

INTO THE ABUSE POLICIES OF TWITTER ITSELF
The question of power — and when it can be ignored or used as a protective shield for bad actors — cannot be disregarded in conversations about Twitter and abuse, not least of all because exceptions for the powerful are built into the abuse policies of Twitter itself. 

Although Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Del Harvey, has said that “the rules are the rules, we enforce them the same way for everybody,” the new rules it announced in December 2017 to curb hateful conduct and abusive behavior carve out a specific exception for “military or government entities.”

That means these rules don’t apply to many of its most powerful, news-making users — including the President of the United States, a man who has abused his bully pulpit to dox his political foes and who frequently uses his 53 million user Twitter following as a cudgel against private citizens and even 17-year-old girls. So the rules are the rules for everyone, unless you’re really, really important. Power can impact you a great deal if you have it; it can affect you a great deal if you don’t. If only Twitter’s abuse policies cared as much about the latter as the former.

Twitter long touted itself as the “free speech wing of the free speech party,” and its inability to reckon with this legacy — or how blindness and indifference to power dynamics are still embedded into its system — remains a persistent issue. The company’s ban on doxing, or the publication of personal information like phone numbers or addresses with intent to incite harassment, is relatively recent; for years, the platform operated with a laissez-faire attitude that turned its service into a free-for-all playground for harassers and blue-check verified Neo-Nazis. It only got around to banning doxing (along revenge porn) in 2015, after years of permitting the tactics to flourish and terrorize — and about a month after Twitter CEO Dick Costolo admitted that,  “ we suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform, and we’ve sucked at it for years.”


ZERO TOLERANCE PROGRAM WAS ALL MILLERS IDEA
Washington (CNN)Nearly ever present by the President's side, perhaps no one is more responsible for the Trump agenda than Stephen Miller.

•  President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at keeping families together at the border, but not before several days of public outcry over the administration’s "zero-tolerance" immigration policy that had resulted in thousands of undocumented children separated from their families at the border. 

•  Some of the Trump administration’s most controversial and chaos-inducing policies can be traced back to Miller, including the travel ban and the firing of former FBI director James Comey. 


NOTHING NEW
•  Originally from California, the 32-year-old senior Trump adviser has been part of the Trump team since January 2016, where he acted as Trump’s warm-up act during the primary and general 2016 election.  During the campaign, Miller would consistently address the crowds at Trump rallies before the then-candidate would take the stage. 

"Everybody who stands against Donald Trump are the people who've been running this country into the ground," Miller said at one campaign rally in Texas. "Everything that is wrong with this country today, the people opposing Donald J. Trump are responsible for."

But amid the administration's tumultuous first year that has seen historic levels of staff turn over, Miller has remained a constant -- even outlasting fellow travel ban architect and former head of Breitbart, Steve Bannon. 


HIS TEENAGE YEARS

Miller has peddled the role of provocateur since his teenage years in California. In high school, he ran a student government campaign that included a controversial speech about the role of janitors at the school, according to a recording obtained by Univision.

"Stephen's whole view of immigration stems from high school," Adrian Karima, a lawyer who sat two desks away from Miller in AP Government, previously told CNN. "His negative views of immigration started in high school and just grew over time."

CNN also previously reported that in 2002, when Miller was 16 years old, he penned an opinion editorial for the Santa Monica Lookout that argued "very few, if any, Hispanic students" make it to honors classes because the school provides a "crutch" to those who don't speak English by ensuring "all announcements are written in both Spanish and English."

While at a week-long summer program for rising high school seniors where attendees built their own governments, Miller reportedly ran for a seat on the Board of Supervisors. His stump speech included a proposal for infiltrating enemy groups with a "black ops" force. After winning his election, Miller was involved in a heated incident where he yelled and flipped a table, CNN previously reported. 


DUKE UNIVERSITY
Following high school, Miller attended Duke University, where he wrote for the Duke Chronicle about topics including the “war on Christmas," immigration and multiculturalism. 

WHICH BROUGHT HIM TO ANOTHER FELLOW BIASED IDIOT
His conservative politics landed him a job with Michele Bachmann, who at the time, was serving as a representative for Minnesota.   "I decided I would take a chance on him because he struck me as a very serious individual," Bachmann previously told CNN, calling Miller "intelligent, hardworking and highly competent.”  Coming from an idiot like her, it appears as a compliment fro one who is known as Bat-Shit Crazy.

But it was during his time working for then - Sen. Jeff Sessions where Miller became central to Sessions' immigration messaging and helped shape the Alabama lawmaker’s critique of the 2013 bipartisan immigration reform bill which eventually died in the House.  Science tells us that scumbags float and true to form, Sessions survived and now serves as the US attorney general under Trump, and was the first sitting senator to endorse Trump in 2015. 

However he is at odds with the President over his recusal from the special counsel's Russia probe. He also has repeatedly defended the administration’s hardline immigration stances.  

Miller’s role shaping immigration policy continued when he assumed a position in Trump's White House -- and lawmakers have taken notice.  "I've talked with the President, his heart is right on this issue, I think he's got a good understanding of what will sell, and every time we have a proposal it's only yanked back by staff members. And as long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration we're going nowhere," South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters in January. "He's been an outlier for years."

•  Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin had a similar sentiment in January, telling reporters, "Any effort to kill immigration reform usually has Mr. Miller's fingerprints on it."

Now, Republican lawmakers face an uphill battle to pass their latest immigration bill. Members have pushed back the vote to take place next week in an effort to continue negotiations. Trump has advised Republicans to stop "wasting their time." 

"Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November. Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades-old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!" Trump tweeted Friday. 

Meanwhile, Miller's standing in Trump's inner circle remains unclear after this week, some people familiar with the matter previously told CNN. But as of Wednesday, any potential admonition had yet to be seen, as Miller joined the President on Air Force One where they traveled to Duluth for what has shaped their relationship since the early days of 2016 -- a campaign rally. 


THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S IMMIGRATION 

POLICY FROM THE NEW YORKER MAGAZINE ARTICLE

MXDC is a slick, anodyne restaurant, one of a half-dozen or so East Coast establishments affiliated with the celebrity chef Todd English, who rose to fame in the nineties making Italian food in Boston.  Neither English nor the restaurant’s owner, nor the bulk of its clientele, is Latino, but—as in so many restaurants in America—most of the staff is. 

In fact so many places are suing Todd English, he forgets to pay his bills, he might not have too much to do with it.

Indeed, Nielsen and Miller would have been hard-pressed to find any restaurant, serving any kind of food, that didn’t rely on the labor of the same individuals their immigration policies seek to expel at all costs. Latino workers are the backbone of the restaurant world, at bistros, pizzerias, sushi counters, and rotisseries across the country—many of them are Central American, like the majority of the migrant families being torn apart in recent weeks. (And, it’s worth noting, many of those workers are undocumented: the hospitality sector is one of the largest employers of undocumented labor in the country.)

To many people—the protesters and hecklers, the demonstrators gathered in front of ice and D.H.S. offices across the country during the past week, the horrified parents watching the news and holding their children close—it seems impossible that Nielsen and Miller could miss the through line that connects this Administration’s cruel, dehumanizing policies toward Latino migrants and the real lives of Latino people who already live and work in this country. It seems as if it would require high-wire moral acrobatics, Jedi-level compartmentalization, to enjoy the fruits of Latin American culture, and labor, at this time. But for many other Americans, including those leading our government, there is a simple, reflexive disconnect between cultural product and cultural producer, between policy and people. “Everyone hates Mexicans, but everyone at the same time loves Mexican food,” the Mexican-American writer Gustavo Arellano told the Huffington Post, in 2016. “When they’re eating it, they’re able to disassociate it from the people who made it, or who picked it or slaughtered those cows.

” Shortly after Marco Gutierrez issued his taco-truck warning, a Bay Area online magazine asked him what sort of food establishment he would be happy to see on every American corner. “Uhh . . . Probably taco trucks,” he said. “What?!” the interviewer responded. “Yeah,” he said. “Taco trucks are fine with me.”


UPDATED TACO LOCATIONS FOR THOSE HATING MEXICANS

WE CALL THEM LOS SCUMBAGOS,  THROW THEM OUT 

So it may have been pure statistical inevitability that caused Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security, to eat at a Mexican restaurant this week, in the midst of the nightmarish crisis at the border caused by the Trump Administration’s family separation policy. 

On Wednesday evening, Nielsen arrived at MXDC Cocina Mexicana, a restaurant in Washington, D.C., that promises “classic Mexican cuisine with a modern touch.” It seemed almost unbelievable, on the day we heard a wrenching audio recording of migrant children crying out for their parents, that Nielsen, the chief enforcer of the Administration’s immigration policy, could be out in the world having dinner in a neighborhood restaurant like a normal person, let alone enjoying food from the very region the policy targets. 

As Nielsen and a dining companion sat in the restaurant for what a D.H.S. spokesperson later described as a “work dinner,” she was recognized by a patron at a nearby table, who covertly snapped a photograph, and sent it to friends in the hopes of inspiring a protest.

In short order, a cadre of demonstrators from the D.C. branch of the Democratic Socialists of America filed into the restaurant and stood between the tables adjacent to Nielsen’s. “How can you enjoy a Mexican dinner as you’re deporting and imprisoning tens of thousands of people who come here seeking asylum?” one shouted, before leading the crowd in a rumbling chant of “Shame! Shame!” 

“In a Mexican restaurant, of all places,” another cried. “The fucking gall!” In the blurry darkness of a video from inside the restaurant, posted to Facebook Live, Nielsen and her dining companion appear to be sharing an order of guacamole. The protest went on for more than twenty minutes, while Nielsen—shielded by two Secret Service agents—kept her head ducked low.

Some observers suggested that Nielsen’s decision to dine at a Mexican restaurant seemed like an intentional provocation, a trollish act consistent with the ethos of spite and petulance that guides much of what happens inside the Trump Administration. 

This suspicion was compounded when, the day after Nielsen’s meal, it was revealed that Stephen Miller—the senior White House adviser responsible for the Trump Administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy—had dined on Sunday night at Espita Mezcaleria, a buzzy Mexican spot in Washington’s hip Shaw neighborhood that, according to The Washingtonian, serves the best chips and salsa in town. 

The New York Post reported that a customer at the restaurant, spotting Miller, cried out, “Whoever thought we’d be in a restaurant with a real-life fascist begging for money for new cages?”

In the midst of the Presidential campaign, which he kicked off by asserting that Mexican immigrants are rapists, Donald Trump celebrated Cinco de Mayo by tweeting a photo that showed him grinning and giving the thumbs-up in front of a tortilla bowl, with the caption “I love Hispanics!” Perhaps Miller, known for his smug embrace of xenophobic politics, was making a similarly sneering gesture.


THOSE IN HIS FAMILY WHO ARE SANE

I FEEL THEIR PAIN, HE IS A SICK INDIVIDUAL
Some of Stephen Miller's family members have a problem with the Trump administration as well as their relative's role in it, and have been making their feelings known on their personal Facebook pages. 

"With all familial affection, I wish Stephen career success and personal happiness, however I cannot endorse his political preferences," Miller's uncle David S. Glosser wrote in a lengthy comment on the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, newspaper Tribune-Democrat's Facebook page in November, in response to a story about Miller's roots in the area. Stephen's mother, Miriam (Glosser) Miller, who is David's sister, grew up in Johnstown with her family.

"The Glosser family escaped Europe as dirt poor immigrants, joined the community, built businesses, and honestly sold goods to their fellow Johnstowners," Glosser wrote. “My nephew and I must both reflect long and hard on one awful truth. 

If in the early 20th century the USA had built a wall against poor desperate ignorant immigrants of a different religion, like the Glossers, all of us would have gone up the crematoria chimneys with the other six million kinsmen whom we can never know."


TEN THINGS MILLER SAID

AND HE SHOULD BE THROWN OUT FOR

1. Thank Goodness Someone Has the Courage to Take on BIG JANITOR
“Am I the only one,” he asked, “who is sick and tired of being told to pick up my trash when we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us?”

2. A 32-Year-Old Racist Is Viewed by the White House as a Key Member of the Policy Team
“We have this running joke,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, “that if we were going to get key man’s insurance on anyone, Stephen would top the list.” She was referring to policies that companies take out on their most important employee.

3. Hate Trump? Then via the Transitive Property, You Hate Miller Just as Much
“I can hear Stephen’s voice,” said a fellow Santa Monica student, Nick Silverman. “Even when Trump reads these statements, I know, ‘That’s Stephen.’”  “It does have this tang of the seething id of Santa Monica,” another student, Jake Zambas, said of Mr. Miller’s nativist streak, noting that their high school, like the town, was largely self-segregating. “Everyone here is just a scared white person.”

4. Marilyn Monroe Apparently Has Some Competition
Mr. Miller set off on a patriotic semi-striptease before the editor of the student newspaper, according to the editor, Ari Rosmarin, theatrically removing a button-down to reveal an American flag T-shirt in protest of an article he found inconsistent with the national interest. (The White House denied any symbolic unbuttoning, though officials confirmed Mr. Miller’s fondness for the T-shirt.)

5. This Excerpt Definitely Doesn’t Suggest Any Deep-Seeded Identity Issues
He jumped, uninvited, into the final stretch of a girls’ track meet, apparently intent on proving his athletic supremacy over the opposite sex. (The White House, reaching for exculpatory context, noted that this was a girls’ team from another school, not his own.)

6. At Least He’s Honest about Being a Racist Piece of Shit
Shortly before the start of ninth grade, Mr. Islas said, he received a call from Mr. Miller informing him that the two could no longer be friends.   “He gives me this litany of reasons,” Mr. Islas said.  Most were petty, if mean, he recalled: an insult about his social awkwardness, a dig at his acne-specked face. But one stuck out.  “He mentioned my Latino heritage as one of the reasons,” Mr. Islas said. “I remember coming away from the conversation being like, ‘O.K., that’s that.’”

7. But Like All Racists, He Isn’t Creative at All
“He tended to make some of the Spanish language stuff very personal,” said Moises Castillo, a classmate who described the exchanges as hurtful to this day. “There was a ‘if you’re not speaking English, perhaps you should go somewhere else.’”

8. Miller Is the Nationalist Version of the Kid Who Asks the Teacher for More Homework
Among his causes: pressing administrators to require the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. (He prevailed.)

9. Miller Worked for the Dumbest Representative AND the Most Racist Senator
After graduating, Mr. Miller moved to Washington to work as press secretary for Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Known by her peers as bat -sh*t crazy for her views on things.  A perfect match.  In 2009, he found his way to Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama   (Mr. Horowitz, the author, had introduced them), and he was eventually elevated to Mr. Sessions’s communications director.  He would not win a popularity contest there.

10. Miller Is One of the People Most Responsible for the Existence of President Trump
“Trump gets it,” Mr. Miller wrote to friends weeks later, forwarding a Breitbart interview with Mr. Trump, who concluded that Mr. Cantor’s defeat owed to “his softness on immigration.”  “I wish he’d run for president,” Mr. Miller added of Mr. Trump.

When he did, Mr. Miller joined him early, before a vote had been cast in the primaries — and before Mr. Sessions became Mr. Trump’s most significant elected supporter. At rallies, Mr. Miller often warmed up crowds in his dark suits, his receding hairline slicked back. “We’re going to build that wall, and we’re going to build it out of love!” Mr. Miller promised.


LET ME TELL YOU A STORY ABOUT STEPHEN MILLER

AND CHAIN MIGRATION...WRITTEN BY HIS UNCLE
It begins at the turn of the 20th century in a dirt-floor shack in the village of Antopol, a shtetl of subsistence farmers in what is now Belarus. Beset by violent anti-Jewish pogroms and forced childhood conscription in the Czar’s army, the patriarch of the shack,  Wolf-Leib Glosser, fled a village where his forebears had lived for centuries and took his chances in America.

He set foot on Ellis Island on January 7, 1903, with $8 to his name. Though fluent in Polish, Russian, and Yiddish he understood no English. An elder son, Nathan, soon followed. By street corner peddling and sweat-shop toil Wolf-Leib and Nathan sent enough money home to pay off debts and buy the immediate family’s passage to America in 1906. 

That group included young Sam Glosser, who with his family settled in the western Pennsylvania city of Johnstown, a booming coal and steel town that was a magnet for other hard-working immigrants. The Glosser family quickly progressed from selling goods from a horse and wagon to owning a haberdashery in Johnstown run by Nathan and Wolf-Leib to a chain of supermarkets and discount department stores run by my grandfather, Sam, and the next generation of Glossers, including my dad, Izzy. 

It was big enough to be listed on the AMEX stock exchange and employed thousands of people over time. In the span of some 80 years and five decades, this family emerged from poverty in a hostile country to become a prosperous, educated clan of merchants, scholars, professionals, and, most important, American citizens. 

What does this classically American tale have to do with Stephen Miller? Well, Izzy Glosser is his maternal grandfather, and Stephen’s mother, Miriam, is my sister.

I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, who is an educated man and well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.

I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses— the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants— been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom. The Glossers came to the US just a few years before the fear and prejudice of the “America First” nativists of the day closed U.S. borders to Jewish refugees. 

Had Wolf-Leib waited, his family would likely have been murdered by the Nazis along with all but seven of the 2,000 Jews who remained in Antopol. I would encourage Stephen to ask himself if the chanting, torch-bearing Nazis of Charlottesville, whose support his boss seems to court so cavalierly, do not envision a similar fate for him. 

Like other immigrants, our family’s welcome to the USA was not always a warm one, but we largely had the protection of the law, there was no state sponsored violence against us, no kidnapping of our male children, and we enjoyed good relations with our neighbors. 

True, Jews were excluded from many occupations, couldn’t buy homes in some towns, couldn’t join certain organizations or attend certain schools or universities, but life was good. As in past generations there were hate mongers who regarded the most recent groups of poor immigrants as scum, rapists, gangsters, drunks and terrorists, but largely the Glosser family was left alone to live our lives and build the American dream. Children were born, synagogues founded, and we thrived. This was the miracle of America. 

Acting for so long in the theater of right wing politics, Stephen and Trump may have become numb to the resultant human tragedy and blind to the hypocrisy of their policy decisions. After all, Stephen’s is not the only family with a chain immigration story in the Trump administration. Trump's grandfather is reported to have been a German migrant on the run from military conscription to a new life in the USA and his mother fled the poverty of rural Scotland for the economic possibilities of New York City. (Trump’s in-laws just became citizens on the strength of his wife’s own citizenship.) 

These facts are important not only for their grim historical irony but because vulnerable people are being hurt. They are real people, not the ghoulish caricatures portrayed by Trump. When confronted by the deaths and suffering of thousands our senses are overwhelmed, and the victims become statistics rather than people. I meet these statistics one at a time through my volunteer service as a neuropsychologist for the Philadelphia affiliate of HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), the global non-profit agency that protects refugees and helped my family more than 100 years ago. I will share the story of one such man I have met in the hope that my nephew might recognize elements of our shared heritage. 

In the early 2000s, Joseph (not his real name) was conscripted at the age of 14 to be a soldier in Eritrea and sent to a remote desert military camp. Officers there discovered a Bible under his pillow which aroused their suspicion that he might belong to a foreign evangelical sect that would claim his loyalty and sap his will to fight. Joseph was actually a member of the state-approved Coptic church but was nonetheless immediately subjected to torture. “They smashed my face into the ground, tied my hands and feet together behind my back, stomped on me, and hung me from a tree by my bonds while they beat me with batons for the others to see.” 

Joseph was tortured for 20 consecutive days before being taken to a military prison and crammed into a dark unventilated cell with 36 other men, little food and no proper hygiene. Some died, and in time Joseph was stricken with dysentery. When he was too weak to stand he was taken to a civilian clinic where he was fed by the medical staff. Upon regaining his strength he escaped to a nearby road where a sympathetic driver took him north through the night to a camp in Sudan where he joined other refugees. Joseph was on the first leg of a journey that would cover thousands of miles and almost 10 years.

Before Donald Trump had started his political ascent promulgating the false story that Barack Obama was a foreign-born Muslim, while my nephew, Stephen, was famously recovering from the hardships of his high school cafeteria in Santa Monica, Joseph was a child on his own in Sudan in fear of being deported back to Eritrea to face execution for desertion. He worked any job he could get, saved his money and made his way through Sudan. He endured arrest and extortion in Libya. He returned to Sudan, then kept moving to Dubai, Brazil, and eventually to a southern border crossing into Texas, where he sought asylum. In all of the countries he traveled through during his ordeal, he was vulnerable, exploited and his status was “illegal.” But in the United States he had a chance to acquire the protection of a documented immigrant. 

Today, at 30, Joseph lives in Pennsylvania and has a wife and child. He is a smart, warm, humble man of great character who is grateful for every day of his freedom and safety. He bears emotional scars from not seeing his parents or siblings since he was 14. He still trembles, cries and struggles for breath when describing his torture, and he bears physical scars as well. He hopes to become a citizen, return to work and make his contribution to America. His story, though unique in its particulars, is by no means unusual. I have met Central Americans fleeing corrupt governments, violence and criminal extortion; a Yemeni woman unable to return to her war-ravaged home country and fearing sexual mutilation if she goes back to her Saudi husband; and an escaped kidnap-bride from central Asia. 

President Trump wants to make us believe that these desperate migrants are an existential threat to the United States; the most powerful nation in world history and a nation made strong by immigrants. Trump and my nephew both know their immigrant and refugee roots. Yet, they repeat the insults and false accusations of earlier generations against these refugees to make them seem less than human. 

Trump publicly parades the grieving families of people hurt or killed by migrants, just as the early Nazis dredged up Jewish criminals to frighten and enrage their political base to justify persecution of all Jews. Almost every American family has an immigration story of its own based on flight from war, poverty, famine, persecution, fear or hopelessness. These immigrants became the workers, entrepreneurs, scientists and soldiers of America. 

Most damning is the administration's evident intent to make policy that specifically disadvantages people based on their ethnicity, country of origin, and religion. No matter what opinion is held about immigration, any government that specifically enacts law or policy on that basis must be recognized as a threat to all of us. Laws bereft of justice are the gateway to tyranny. 

Today others may be the target, but tomorrow it might just as easily be you or me. History will be the judge, but in the meanwhile the normalization of these policies is rapidly eroding the collective conscience of America. Immigration reform is a complex issue that will require compassion and wisdom to bring the nation to a just solution, but the politicians who have based their political and professional identity on ethnic demonization and exclusion cannot be trusted to do so. As free Americans, and the descendants of immigrants and refugees, we have the obligation to exercise our conscience by voting for candidates who will stand up for our highest national values and not succumb to our lowest fears.

*07-2018 aljacobsladder.com