White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller might be all over the news because of his remarks regarding the Statue of Liberty, but that wasn't the first time he acted out of contempt for immigrants.
In middle school, a Univision investigation revealed, Miller had a friend named Jason Islas, who was Latino. Shortly after both kids entered high school, Islas told Univision, Miller simply stopped talking to him.
“I can't be your friend any more because you are Latino,” Islas remembers Miller telling him.
That, however, was not the only time Miller showed he had problems accepting people from different backgrounds.
When he was 16, Miller also wrote a letter to a local publication sharing his negative views on how Hispanic students were allowed to speak Spanish.
“When I entered Santa Monica High School in ninth grade, I noticed a number of students lacked basic English skills. There are usually very few, if any, Hispanic students in my honors classes, despite the large number of Hispanic students that attend our school,” he then wrote.
“Even so, pursuant to district policy, all announcements are written in both Spanish and English. By providing a crutch now, we are preventing Spanish speakers from standing on their own. As politically correct as this may be, it demeans the immigrant population as incompetent, and makes a mockery of the American ideal of personal accomplishment."
Another former acquaintance, School Board member Oscar de la Torre, said Miller was not known to back down from verbal fights against anyone standing for open immigration or for minorities.
One time, Torre recalled, Miller showed up for a meeting involving people who wanted to help black and Hispanic students. During the get-together, Torre said, Miller wasn't interested in helping.
“He wanted to sabotage us,” he said. “He confronted everyone, denying that racism existed. He said that was a thing of the past.”
According to Univision, Miller and well-known neo-Nazi Richard Spencer were friends while both attended Duke University. They were so close that Miller allegedly helped Spencer organize an on-campus debate on immigration featuring Peter Brimelow, known for his white nationalist views.
A former colleague, Natalie Flores, said that as Miller changed his political inclinations over time, he also displayed “an intense hatred toward people of color, especially toward Latinos.”
“I think his big problem was the Latinos. He thought they lived off welfare,” the now-grad student at Columbia University told Univision.
Cynthia Santiago, an immigration lawyer who attended high school with Miller, said she's saddened that as she helps immigrants fighting President Donald Trump's policies, she's constantly reminded that her former classmate is now affecting the lives of so many people so negatively.
“A few days ago I spent a weekend at the Los Angeles airport volunteering to assist immigrants arriving from countries on the [Trump] executive order,” she said. “It upsets me that we were in the same school.”
And we can see why.
After all, having attended school in California and being part of a community that is so diverse, Miller should understand well what some of these immigrants go through more than anyone else. It's heartbreaking seeing someone become so adamantly against immigrants, especially when this someone happens to have so much influence with the president.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts