Speed Reads

resettling down

Stephen Miller is stealthily killing America's refugee program

President Trump has had two secretaries of state and two secretaries of homeland security, but senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has been in the Trump White House since the beginning. His fingerprints are all over the Trump administration's restrictive immigration policies — like a new proposal to sharply limit legal immigration. But a lot of the time, Abigail Tracy reports at Vanity Fair, Miller wears figurative gloves, as in his shadow campaign to grind refugee resettlement to a halt.

The U.S. currently accepts the lowest number of refugees since 1980, due in part to a Miller-led push to cap refugee admissions at 45,000 — that's less than half the number permitted under former President Barack Obama, and the actual number of refugees allowed in this fiscal year is expected to be about 22,000. There is concern now that the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, which settles refugees, will effectively vanish under Trump.

Miller "has been particularly attentive" to this refugee program, and he's been able to wield power at agencies outside his authority by limiting what information Trump hears, ousting foes, and installing ideological allies at the relevant departments, at senior levels that don't require Senate confirmation, Tracy reports. Former government officials are horrified and impressed with what he has accomplished from the shadows.

"He wants to be able to put it out there, speak for the president, not have his fingerprints on it," one former official who worked on refugee affairs tells Vanity Fair. "He has just been a master operator on that front. His name hasn't been on anything. He is working behind the scenes, he has planted all of his people in all of these positions, he is on the phone with them all of the time, and he is creating a side operation that will circumvent the normal, transparent policy process" — and he will succeed, "and there won't really even be a paper trail."