Stephen Miller’s Influence on Immigration Policy — and Throughout the Administration

The fingerprints of White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller appear on much of the Trump administration’s harshest immigration policies, from travel bans to refugee admissions caps. American Oversight is investigating how one of the president’s most loyal and long-serving advisers has shaped the administration’s hardline positions, and how he and his allies have inserted themselves at agencies across the federal government.

Background

Quietly working behind the scenes and skillfully avoiding getting frequent mentions in the paper trails of various agencies, White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller has remained one of President Donald Trump’s most influential aides. He has been the architect of the administration’s Muslim-country travel ban, the defender of zero-tolerance family separation, the advocate of reducing refugee admissions, and the promoter of rules that would allow the government to deny green cards to immigrants considered likely to use public assistance.

Reports also indicate that he not only has the president’s ear, but that he has gone so far as to place across the administration handpicked appointees with the same hardline immigration views. An August 2018 Vanity Fair article said that he has installed appointees who were “high up enough that they would know everything but not high up enough that they would be in the public spotlight or need Senate confirmation.” And in August 2019, the Washington Post reported that he will “surprise lower-level staffers with phone calls urging them to implement his ideas.”

Throughout his years of influence, Miller has reportedly put things in writing only rarely, “eschewing email in favor of phone calls,” as the Post reported, with written communications from his allies “often viewed as the expression of Miller’s wishes.” But his minimized email use hasn’t stopped American Oversight from investigating his magnified clout, filing Freedom of Information Act requests across the federal government for communications with Miller or his close allies and team members. Below is a timeline of documents we’ve received so far that reference meetings or communications with Miller, beginning in the early days of the Trump administration.

Timeline

January 2017

Miller was included in correspondence between White House officials and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The communications, over several months, can be found here, and show Miller’s connections with USTR officials Payne Griffin and Christopher Jackson.

February 2017

A congressional question for the record to a Justice Department nominee alleged that Miller called a U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York to tell him how to defend the administration’s travel ban.

March 2017 

On March 2, Ivanka Trump (using her personal email account), Miller and other officials exchanged communications regarding child-care policy.

EPA official Ryan Jackson’s calendars show a lunch on March 17 with former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Miller. Pruitt’s calendar indicates that the meeting was to discuss the “Climate Agenda” and also included the White House’s McLaurine Klingler and Robert Gabriel.

June 2017

On June 29, then-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta met with Miller and John Zadrozny, the special assistant to the president.

August 2017

White House official Peter Navarro included Miller in a request for a meeting about border wall bids.

September 2017

On September 1, Scott Lloyd, the former director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, shared a report on the Unaccompanied Alien Children Program that Miller had requested.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had a meeting with Miller on September 25.

October 2017

On October 5, Perdue had a call with Miller.

Later that month, on October 30, Acosta had a call with Miller.

December 2017

HHS’ Scott Lloyd met with Miller at Miller’s office on December 1 to discuss “Unaccompanied Alien Children.”

January 2018

Lloyd had another call with Miller on January 12.

March 2018

A March 6 call on immigration on DHS senior official Chad Wolf’s calendar lists a participant as “Miller” — there’s no first name, but it is likely Stephen Miller.

On March 22, Miller, then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and Wolf met at the Oval Office to discuss the omnibus spending bill.

On March 28, Miller, Kelly, Nielsen, then-White House Counsel Don McGahn, then-CBP chief Kevin McAleenan, and senior official Chad Wolf met at the Oval Office to discuss border security.

April 2018

On April 9, HHS Secretary Alex Azar had a call with Miller.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer participated in a phone call with Miller and Sen. Marco Rubio on April 26.

Lloyd sent emails to Miller and presidential assistant Zadrozny and Miller on April 27.

May 2018

Interior Department Chief of Staff Scott Hommel’s calendars include a May 3 call with Miller.

On May 16, Lighthizer had a call with Miller.

Lloyd’s calendars include a May 27 entry for a conference call with Azar to prep for a call with Miller.

June 2018

On June 19, Lloyd emailed Miller, saying, “I was a little puzzled by your comments.”

Lighthizer was invited to a June 5 meeting to discuss trade messaging with conservative pollster Frank Luntz, Miller, Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and White House officials Peter Navarro and Larry Kudlow.

What We’re Seeking

  • Communications between Miller or specific members of his team with officials at multiple agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security, State, Justice, Health and Human Services, Commerce, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, as well as USAID, the Office of Management and Budget, the Social Security Administration, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
  • Communications that allies Andrew Veprek and John Zadrozny had with outside anti-immigration groups and the White House, or about immigration, during their time at the State Department or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Veprek’s and Zadrozny’s calendars from the State Department.

Related Documents

September 10, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Steven Menashi’s Communications with Stephen Miller and Other White House Officials

Department of Education
FOIA Request
August 19, 2019

HHS Records of Communications Regarding Stephen Miller

Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services
Agency Record
August 14, 2019

FOIA to HHS and ACF Seeking Communications with Stephen Miller

Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
August 5, 2019

FOIA to USTR Seeking Communications with Stephen Miller and Robert Gabriel Jr.

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
FOIA Request
August 5, 2019

FOIA to USCIS Seeking Calendars and External Communications of John Zadrozny

Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
August 5, 2019

FOIA to USCIS Seeking Communications Between John Zadrozny and White House Officials

Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
August 5, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking External Sent Mail of Andrew Veprek and John Zadrozny

Department of State
FOIA Request
July 18, 2019

FOIA to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for Ken Cuccinelli’s Communications with Stephen Miller and Individuals Outside the Government

Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
July 18, 2019

FOIA to the Department of Homeland Security Seeking Records Relating to Stephen Miller

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
July 9, 2019

FOIA to ICE Seeking Communications Between Deportation Officers and Outside Groups

Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
FOIA Request
June 7, 2019

FOIA to HUD Seeking Communications Concerning Proposed “Verification of Eligible Status” Rule

Department of Housing and Urban Development
FOIA Request
June 4, 2019

FOIA to SSA Seeking Communications with Stephen Miller Regarding Removing Lack of English Proficiency as a Factor in Determining Disability Benefits

Social Security Administration
FOIA Request
April 24, 2019

No Records Response from DHS Regarding Communications with Former White House Assistant McLaurine Klingler

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
March 20, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. DHS, DOJ, HHS, and State – Stephen Miller Communications

Administration for Children and Families, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, White House
Litigation
November 1, 2018

FOIA to USCIS Seeking Communications with White House Official McLaurine Klingler

Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
November 1, 2018

FOIA to ICE Seeking Communications with White House Official McLaurine Klingler

Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
FOIA Request
November 1, 2018

FOIA to CBP Seeking Communications with White House Official McLaurine Klingler

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
October 29, 2018

FOIA to USDA Seeking Records of Influence on Immigration Policy

Department of Agriculture
FOIA Request
October 17, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking Updated Calendars for Senior Staff Officials

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 25, 2018

No Records Response From ICE Regarding Stephen Miller Communications

Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Agency Reply
September 24, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking Andrew Veprek or John Zadrozny Communications with Conservative and Anti-Immigration Groups

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 24, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking Andrew Veprek or John Zadrozny Seeking Specific Search Terms

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 24, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking Andrew Veprek or John Zadrozny Communications with Search Terms Regarding Conservative and Anti-Immigration Groups

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 24, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking Andrew Veprek or John Zadrozny Communications with the White House

Department of State
FOIA Request
August 29, 2018

FOIA to United States Agency for International Development Regarding Stephen Miller’s Influence on Immigration Policy

Agency for International Development
FOIA Request
August 29, 2018

FOIA to OMB Regarding Stephen Miller’s Influence on Immigration Policy

Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
August 29, 2018

FOIA to USTR Seeking Communications Regarding Stephen Miller’s Influence on Immigration Policy

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
FOIA Request
August 29, 2018

FOIA to Commerce Regarding Stephen Miller’s Influence on Immigration Policy

Department of Commerce
FOIA Request
August 29, 2018

FOIA to CBP Regarding Stephen Miller’s Influence on Immigration Policy

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
August 29, 2018

FOIA to ICE Regarding Stephen Miller’s Influence on Immigration Policy

Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
FOIA Request
August 29, 2018

FOIA to USCIS Regarding Stephen Miller’s Influence on Immigration Policy

Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
August 29, 2018

FOIA to DHS Regarding Stephen Miller’s Influence on Immigration Policy

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
August 29, 2018

FOIA to DOJ Regarding Stephen Miller’s Influence on Immigration Policy

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
August 29, 2018

FOIA to State Regarding Stephen Miller’s Influence on Immigration Policy

Department of State
FOIA Request
August 29, 2018

FOIA to HHS Regarding Stephen Miller’s Influence on Immigration Policy

Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request