Mike Pence's spokesperson sent to child migrant detention centre 'to become more compassionate' - but reportedly said: 'It didn't work'

Ms Miller's interview appears in new book examining Trump administration's child separation policy

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 08 July 2020 22:21
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Trump compares US-Mexico border to Disneyland and calls end to family separations a disaster

Vice President Mike Pence's spokeswoman Katie Miller said the US Department of Homeland Security sent her to a child migrant detention centre so she would build empathy for the children who had been separated from their parents housed there.

"But it didn't work," she said, according to the author of a new book on the Trump administration's 'zero tolerance' family separation policy.

Ms Miller reportedly made the comments during an interview with Jacob Soboroff, who was conducting research for his book Separated. Mr Soboroff read the excerpt from his book containing the anecdote on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show.

Ms Miller is married to Stephen Miller, Donald Trump's senior policy adviser and the architect of the president's immigration agenda. Before joining Mr Pence's team, Ms Miller worked as a spokeswoman for the DHS. During that time, the DHS was overseeing the separation of children from their parents when immigrants were attempting to cross the border.

"My family and colleagues told me that when I have kids I'll think about the separations differently. But I don't think so ... DHS sent me to the border to see the separations for myself — to try to make me more compassionate — but it didn't work," she reportedly said.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday that Ms Miller denied making the remarks.

“She said those quotes are not true, as described in the book," Ms McEnany told reporters. "There's no greater ally of the Cuban community than President Trump. He loves the Cuban community."

Mr Soboroff, who visited the detention centres as well, said he was shocked by Ms Miller's comments.

"It didn't work? I will never forget what I saw. Seriously. Are you a white nationalist? I asked, exasperated," Mr Sobroff said, reading from his book.

"No, but I believe if you come to America you should assimilate," Ms Miller replied. "Why do we need to have a 'Little Havana?'"

Ms Miller's husband was shown to have connections to white nationalist publications when the Southern Poverty Law Center uncovered hundreds of emails from Miller to a reporter at Breitbart News recommending articles from sites like American Renaissance magazine and VDARE.

American Renaissance features the writing of Jared Taylor, who calls himself a "race realist" and argues that the races are not identical or equal. The website is popular exclusively amongst white nationalists. VDARE — an SPLC designated hate group — is run by Peter Brimelow and includes original and archived work from white nationalist writers.

Mr Miller has also referenced the 1973 book The Camp of the Saints, a French novel portraying the overthrow of France by a flotilla of South Asian immigrants. The immigrants are portrayed as an invading horde intent on overwhelming and destroying Western civilization.

Mr Trump eventually ended the family separation policy in June 2018.

The US Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general issued a report that claimed children who were detained in the camps under Mr Trump's separation policy were suffering from acute psychological trauma.

"According to program directors and mental health clinicians, separated children exhibited more fear, feelings of abandonment, and post-traumatic stress than did children who were not separated," the report said.

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