Stephen Miller’s uncle explains how Trump’s anti-immigrant comments demonize asylum seekers and stir racist hatred
As his administration intensifies anti-immigrant policies at the border, President Trump has reportedly put adviser Stephen Miller in charge of the administration’s immigration policy. The Wall Street Journal reports Miller has backed the reinstatement of Trump’s family separation policy and has been pushing officials at the Homeland Security and Justice Departments to “get in line” with a more hard-line immigration approach. This news comes as Trump told the Republican Jewish Coalition leadership Saturday, “Our country’s full. What can you do? We can’t handle any more. Our country is full.” We speak with Stephen Miller’s uncle, Dr. David Glosser, who says Trump’s comments echo the rhetoric of Nazi Germany. Glosser is a retired neuropsychologist and former faculty member at Boston University School of Medicine and Jefferson Medical College. Last year, he wrote a piece for Politico magazine headlined “Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I’m His Uncle.”
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González, as we continue to look at President Trump’s intensifying crackdown on immigration amidst a purge of the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security. We’re going to go back to Trump for just a second, Saturday, addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And the asylum program is a scam. Some of the roughest people you’ve ever seen, people that look like they should be fighting for the UFC, they read a little page given by lawyers, that are all over the place. You know lawyers. They tell them what to say. You look at this guy, you say, “Wow! That’s a tough cookie!” “I am very fearful for my life. I am very worried that I will be accosted if I am sent back home.” No, no. He’ll do the accosting. Asylum. Oh, give him asylum! He’s afraid! He’s afraid! We don’t love the fact that he’s got tattoos on his face. That’s not a good sign. We don’t love the fact that he’s carrying the flag of Honduras or Guatemala or El Salvador, only to say he’s petrified to be in his country.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s President Trump speaking Saturday to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas. This all comes as Trump has reportedly put adviser Stephen Miller, a longtime hard-liner on immigration, in charge of the administration’s immigration policy. The Wall Street Journal reports Miller has backed the reinstatement of Trump’s family separation policy, has been pushing officials at Homeland Security and Justice to “get in line” with a more hard-line immigration approach.
As we turn now to Philadelphia, where we’re joined by Dr. David Glosser, the uncle of Stephen Miller, retired neuropsychologist and former faculty member at Boston University School of Medicine and Jefferson Medical College. Dr. Glosser works as a volunteer with refugees in Philadelphia. Last year he wrote a piece for Politico headlined “Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I’m His Uncle.”
Dr. Glosser, if you can respond to this speech that President Trump gave to the Republican Jewish Coalition, as he talked about the country being full? It makes you think of the MS St. Louis in World War II, that the U.S. would not allow to dock, with over 900 Jews, who were eventually sent back, many of them to die. This is your nephew, Stephen Miller, who President Trump is working with even more closely, if possible. Your thoughts?
DR. DAVID GLOSSER: I have a couple of points to make on this, Amy. Thanks for inviting me to speak on this subject.
First, the first point I’d like to make, I think, is a general point about racial hatreds and ethnic hatreds. It’s kind of axiomatic that the worse we’ve treated—that the worse that one group treats another group, the greater their need to demonize that group in order to justify their repression or exploitation of them. So here we see Trump spewing vitriol and lies regarding the asylum seekers and trying to characterize them all as gangsters, criminals or even using the word, having implied that they’re “vermin,” during his explosive rants before the midterms. It doesn’t really represent the reality at all. And it’s the same—it’s the same racial and ethnic hatred that’s faced other ethnic groups trying to come into the country at other times in our history. There’s really nothing new about it. In fact, even the moniker, the so-called America Firsters, it’s the same stuff that was heard back when my ancestors started to try to come into this country, and some succeeded in doing so.
The other point, I guess, that I’d like to make—I don’t know that it’s been made explicitly—is that I would refer people to do a computer search under the phrase “International Committee of the Red Cross, hostage taking, war crimes and U.S. military code.” And in there you will find a description of the U.S. military code regarding the taking of hostages, and the definition of it, which holds that taking hostages among civilians for the purpose of causing them or someone else to either take a course of action or to stop taking a course of action during a conflict, during a war, is actually a capital crime and punishable by life imprisonment or death. So, I fail to see the real distinction between separating children from their parents and holding them prisoner, with no apparent and clear intention of ever reuniting them again or even keeping track of them, for the purpose of deterring legal attempts to make asylum claims in the United States, and hostage taking in time of war. So, it’s not something that’s allowed even to armies during times of desperate conflict between nations. But here, we’ve become so deconditioned and so anesthetized to outrage that we accept it as a matter of course now.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Uh—
DR. DAVID GLOSSER: Next point I’d like to make, I guess—go ahead.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Dr. Glosser, I wanted to ask you about this whole—the statement that President Trump made about “the country is full.” I mean, I’ve never—I mean, he’s made many fabrications, but this is one of the most easily disprovable fabrications, that he’s claiming that the United States is now full with people. I did a quick search just of population densities of countries around the world. According to the United Nations, of 277 nations and territories in the world, the United States is 177th. We’re at the bottom half of population density in the world. I mean, places like Bangladesh have more than 3,000 people per square mile; India, 1,100; China, 390; even France, 308; Great Britain, 712 people per square mile; Germany, 611. The United States has 92 people per square mile of its territory. It’s in the bottom half of population density in the world. For him to say that our nation is full, then that means that most of the nations in the world are full right now. It’s amazing. It seems more it’s not the question of the country being full, it’s who’s coming in. I think that’s the issue that you’re saying in terms of the demonization of the folks that are coming in.
DR. DAVID GLOSSER: Yeah, there’s a couple of points here. First, I mean, in general, Juan, you’re barking up the logic tree, and you’re not going to find President Trump at the top of the logic tree. So, trying to make logical refutations of his explanations of a crisis, it’s a fruitless exercise and a distraction. Of course, he lies just to stay in practice, it seems.
The real border crisis that we face here, and the real crisis for Trump, is not—the fact that there’s been a spike in the flood of families fleeing from the failed states in Central America is not a problem for Trump. That’s his opportunity. That’s essentially the only thing he has to offer to his red meat base. He was elected based—he was elected, in large part, because he was willing to stir up and divide, and to stir up ethnic hatreds and fears and anxieties about so-called invaders. He doubled down on that during the midterms, famously putting himself on the ballot and his policies on the ballot, and having, really, an explosive—explosive rants of ethnic and racial fear at the midterms. And he was stunningly repudiated. He seems to have just decided he’s going to double down on that bet again.
So, here we see the set of policies that he’s followed, right from since the inauguration, actually since the campaign, of trying to exclude people who come from the wrong countries, as you point out, first by making the so-called Muslim ban, which was overturned in the courts, now yesterday’s decision by the courts invalidating the decision to hold people in Mexico before making an asylum claim. He’s got an unpopular tax bill. He’s not going to be the healthcare president. He blundered—
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Glosser, we only—
DR. DAVID GLOSSER: He blundered—
AMY GOODMAN: We only have 30 seconds, and I’m wondering if you have a message—
DR. DAVID GLOSSER: Go ahead.
AMY GOODMAN: —for your nephew, for Stephen Miller.
DR. DAVID GLOSSER: Well, listen, that’s going to be—I don’t really have a message for him that I haven’t otherwise explained. His history is going to be one of great interest, I think, to psychobiographers in the future as to how this all came to pass and why he feels this way and so forth. But frankly, who cares about that? It’s the public persona. It’s the public acts of the administration. It’s the craven cowardice of the Republican Party. Those are the things we’re interested in.
The only thing that’s going to solve this problem is not logical argument. What’s going to solve this problem is the United States must start a three-pronged approach toward solving it, which is to reduce the pressures for outmigration from these failed states, through a sort of immigration Marshall Plan, trying to revise our laws to help with temporary migrants, and then to set realistic and fair admission standards for true asylum seekers.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there, but we’re going to do Part 2 with Dr. David Glosser, uncle of Stephen Miller; Erika Andiola of RAICES; and Renée Feltz of Democracy Now! Thanks.