While the Trump administration had already been “piloting” family separation at the southern border well before former Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III formally announced the policy in May 2018, Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff report that the state-sanctioned kidnapping was going far too slow for White House aide Stephen Miller.
The noted white supremacist in fact wanted as many as 25,000 children stolen from their parents, telling a gathering of the impeached president’s top cabinet officials in the White House’s Situation Room that same month that “[i]f we don’t enforce this, it is the end of our country as we know it.” So he made them vote on proceeding with the plan, two people who were present at the meeting told Ainsley and Soboroff. They voted on it.
Lest anyone think for even a moment that the assembled cabinet was horrified at Miller’s demand—remember these are people who wanted to work for Donald Trump—the two officials told NBC News that 11 of the top officials raised their hands. According to the report, among officials invited to the meeting were Sessions, former Department of Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen, former White House chief of staff John Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Marc Short, a staffer at the time to Mike Pence.
“No one in the meeting made the case that separating families would be inhumane or immoral, the officials said,” Ainsley and Soboroff reported. “Any moral argument about immigration ‘fell on deaf ears’ inside the White House, one of the officials said.”
Among the few who kept their hands down was Nielsen, the report said, having argued not that this would be a moral and humanitarian disaster that could result in children being separated from their parents for years, or that the emotional trauma resulting from separation could damage them perhaps for life, but instead that the department wouldn’t be able to handle the workload of stealing tens of thousands of kids from their families.
Nielsen could have resigned if she’d truly been opposed to the racist dweeb, but she instead signed the memo authorizing separation, the report continued.
“In the days immediately following the meeting, Nielsen had a conversation with Kevin McAleenan, then the Customs and Border Patrol commissioner, in her office at the Ronald Reagan Building and then signed a memo instructing DHS personnel to prosecute all migrants crossing the border illegally, including parents arriving with their children.”
More than two years since the official policy, Nielsen is still lying and claiming there was no policy at all. A count from late last year said that nearly 5,500 children were stolen by the Trump administration since 2017, 1,556 of those kids in the months before any policy was officially implemented the following spring. Family separation has been a crime against humanity, and there’s been not even one attempt at a sincere apology from her, from her former chief of staff Miles Taylor, from John Kelly, or from Trump, not that it would mean anything.
“Asked about the show-of-hands vote, Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said, ‘This is absolutely not true and did not happen,’” the NBC News report continued. But no one believes you, Judd, and you only have yourself to blame for that. “Millions of Trump fanatics are in the grip of a deranged conspiracy theory about the abuse of children, meanwhile, top officials in the Trump administration conspired to abuse children as a matter of public policy,” tweeted Jamelle Bouie in response to the report.
For his role in implementing some of the most inhumane and racist immigration policies in modern U.S. history, civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently added Miller to its “Extremists Files,” putting this taxpayer-paid ghoul alongside notorious racists and bigots like former KKK grand wizard David Duke and dead homophobe Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church.