President Donald Trump’s advisor Stephen Miller was combative with reporters in the White House press briefing on immigration, blasting them for their bias on the issue.
Miller appeared at the podium to discuss the RAISE Act, a proposed bill to move to a skills-based immigration system.
“I know you guys will have lots of fun,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said as she introduced Miller at the beginning of the press briefing.
He didn’t disappoint.
Miller called on New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush and CNN’s Jim Acosta, apparently ready for a conflict.
During the press briefing, he tangled with Acosta challenging him over the spirit of the Statue of Liberty and the poem added to the platform of the monument. When Acosta cited the poem’s line about “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” Miller disputed the nature of his question.
“The statue of liberty is a symbol of American liberty lighting the world,” Miller replied. “The poem that was added later.”
Acosta accused Miller of monument revisionism, and later accused him of trying to allow only people from Great Britain and Australia by having an English requirement.
“I am shocked by your statement … it reveals your cosmopolitan bias,” Miller replied.
Acosta continued badgering Miller, accusing him of implementing a “press one for English” immigration strategy, by requiring green card holders to know the language before being allowed into the country.
“It just sounds like you’re trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country,” Acosta protested.
“That is one of the most outrageous, ignorant, you, that’s still a really — the notion that you think that this is a racist bill is so wrong and so insulting,” he replied.
He also accused Acosta of supporting “an unfettered, uncontrolled migration” policy.
When asked for statistics by Thrush, Miller cited several studies on immigration and pointed to “common sense” on the issue.
“I’m not asking for common sense. I’m asking for specific statistical data,” Thrush protested,.
“Well, I think it’s very clear, Glenn, that you’re not asking for common sense,” Miller continued.
He further berated Thrush, mockingly suggesting that the administration would allow the New York Times to hire low skill, lower paid workers to see how he felt about the decision.
“You know, maybe it’s time we had compassion, Glenn, for American workers,” he continued.
Reporters reacted to the attack on the Times by questioning why the president used temporary low-skilled visa workers and not solely American workers at his own resorts and golf clubs.
Miller cited Trump’s remarks during the Republican primary debate, where he defended his actions as operating his businesses “according to the laws of the United States as they exist.”
Miller challenged media outlets to poll directly on the issues facing the American worker — specifically on whether green card applicants who speak English should be prioritized, whether they support “unlimited” family immigration, and whether existing workers should be replaced by green card holding immigrants.
“Ask any of these questions, look at the polls, look at the results you’ll get in your own news organizations and they’ll be very clear,” he said.
When asked about the reduction of illegal immigrants flowing across the border, Miller explained that the legislation that Trump supported was specifically surrounding green cards.
“Every year, we issue a million more green cards, and it just keeps adding on every year after year after year,” he said. “And so the supply of foreign labor is at a record high.”
He also refuted accusations that the legislation proposed by Sen. Tom Cotton and Sen. David Perdue separated families, reminding reporters that minor children and spouses would still be allowed to join their legal parents in the United States.
Miller dismissed the suggestion that the administration should produce “comprehensive” immigration reform, and instead address it piece by peace.
“I know the president feels that it’s enormously advantageous to have a conversation about this core aspect of immigration reform, because it does receive too little discussion and yet it’s so enormously important,” he said.
Reporters expressed doubt about the success of the proposed legislation, pointing to Republican dissent on the issue as proof that it wouldn’t pass.
“You’re going to see massive public support for this,” Miller said. “And ultimately, members of Congress will have a choice to make. They can either vote with the interests of U.S. citizens and U.S. workers, or they can vote against their interests.”