Miller's Great-Grandpa Failed Citizenship Test Due To 'Ignorance'

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A group investigating the family tree of anti-immigration figures on the right found out that White House adviser Stephen Miller's great-grandfather failed his naturalization test.

White House Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller may brag about being the mastermind behind the President Donald Trump administration’s family separation policy. But he’s also the great-grandson of Nison Miller, an immigrant who failed his first naturalization test because of “ignorance.”

The information was shared online by a group that uses the hashtag #ResistanceGenealogy and was first discovered by Renee Stern Steinig, the former president of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island.

In the 85-year-old document, an image of Miller’s great-grandfather is seen attached to a form from Nov. 14, 1932, that reads, “Order of Court Denying Petition.” Under his photo, “Ignorance” is listed as a reason for the denial.

“The point isn’t to play ‘gotcha,’” Steinig told reporters. “It’s to show that we are a nation of immigrants, and you are here because someone else picked up and came here for a better life.”

Explaining that the fact that government officials at the time labeled him as “ignorant” didn’t mean he was not worthy of being an American. Instead, she said, it just meant that he may have slipped up on a few questions during his citizenship test.

Now in 2018, his great-grandson is applying a harsh and intolerant approach to immigrants. And what’s worse, even long before this fact was publicized, Miller himself described his grandparents as Jewish refugees who escaped persecution and possible death to find freedom in America. All the while, he was denying today’s refugees the opportunities his grandfolks had.

In 2016, Jewish Journal’s Rob Eshman became intrigued by Miller’s claims regarding his grandparents. He said he thought it was hypocritical of Miller to stand tall against refugees today while being the grandson of refugees himself. So he started digging.

He talked to E. Randol Schoenberg, an attorney who’s an expert in tracing family histories. What the two men found was that Wolf Lieb Glotzer and wife, Bessie, Miller's relatives, arrived from Belarus in 1903. They had nothing but $8 to their name.

They had left home to escape anti-Semitic pogroms in imperial Russia.

Later, their son, Natan, and Wolf’s brothers, Moses and Sam, who changed his last name to Glosser, also moved to America in what would be called chain migration today. Glosser, the two men found, was Miller’s maternal great-grandfather.

In his story about this discovery, Eshman wrote that “Miller demonstrates that in America, truly anything is possible: The great-grandson of a desperate refugee can grow up to shill for the demagogue bent on keeping desperate refugees like his great-grandfather out.”

But today, many anti-immigration people on the right will say that immigrants don’t come to America “legally,” unlike immigrants in the good old days. This argument is common according to Megan Smolenyak, former chief family historian and spokesperson for Ancestry.com. However, “it ignores history.”

All immigration was mostly open and legal in America in its first 300 years. So if you walked off a ship and managed to prove you were free of contagious diseases and sane, you were allowed in.

So as you can see, nothing would prepare immigrants from yesteryear to go through today’s extremely complex immigration rules. And as such, many of the now harsh critics of a more open, humane immigration policy would perhaps not even be here if America’s old policy hadn’t been as open and free as it was for hundreds of years.

In Miller’s case, this goes to show that being the product of people’s desperate need to flee their home countries out of fear of violence, hatred, and prejudice won’t insulate you from being a raging hypocrite in the future.

Thumbnail/Banner Credit: Reuters

 

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