White House senior adviser Stephen Miller — the primary architect of President Trump’s “zero-tolerance policy” against illegal immigration that resulted in the forced separation of thousands of children from their parents at the U.S-Mexico border — is himself descended from asylum-seeking immigrants.
Snopes points out that Miller’s great-great-grandparents immigrated to the United States in 1903, escaping waves of anti-Jewish violence in Russia. Wolf and Bessie Glosser came through Ellis Island with $8. Settling in Jonestown, Pennsylvania, they founded Glosser’s department store. A 2014 book about the store’s history described the situation they fled in Russia: “Imagine living in a place where armed Cossacks ride through the streets, looking to cripple or kill you. A place where the non-Jewish peasants sic their dogs on your children. Where the threat of ethnic massacres, or pogroms, constantly hangs over your head. Where your home has a dirt floor, a thatched roof, and no indoor plumbing, and you barely scrape by, selling kerosene, salt, and potato bread in a humble market stall. Now you know how the Glossers felt before they came to Johnstown.”
The pair did not immigrate legally or illegally — the U.S. had no immigration laws in 1903.
The “zero tolerance policy” at the Southern border was announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on April 4. Since then, more than 2,300 migrant children were separated from their parents — many of whom were fleeing crime and gang violence in Central America — and are being held in shelters throughout the country. Trump reversed his own policy and ended the family separations on Wednesday, but there are no plans in place to reunite the separated families. In an interview with the New York Times this week, Miller said the policy was intended to dissuade people from seeking refuge in the U.S.
In October 2016, Stephen Miller’s uncle, David Glosser, wrote a Facebook post decrying then-candidate Trump’s racism. “The Glosser family escaped Europe as dirt poor immigrants, joined the community, built businesses, and honestly sold goods to their fellow Johnstowners,” he wrote. “Mr. Trump is trying to sell you something too. He sells fear of immigrants, contempt of our daughters, sisters, and wives, and sows discord and anger.”
He added: “My nephew [Stephen Miller] 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.”