WASHINGTON — A batch of leaked emails obtained by a civil rights advocacy group show that Stephen Miller, the White House adviser with a direct hand in shaping President Trump’s hard-line immigration policies, promoted theories popular with white nationalist groups to an editor at a prominent conservative publication before he joined the administration.
The group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, on Tuesday published a summary of some 900 messages that Mr. Miller sent to Breitbart News from March 2015 to June 2016. The center shared with The New York Times seven pages of the emails included in that summary.
The emails, supplied by Katie McHugh, a former editor at Breitbart, show that Mr. Miller tried to shape news coverage with material he found on at least one website that espouses white nationalist viewpoints, including fringe theories that people of color are trying to engage in “white genocide.” The law center’s investigation, which the group says it will turn into a series, seeks to illustrate how Mr. Miller brought anti-immigrant beliefs to the White House and turned them into policy.
In an exchange from October 2015, when Mr. Miller was an aide to then-Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, Mr. Miller and Ms. McHugh appeared to share a concern that Mexican survivors of Hurricane Patricia, a Category 5 storm, could be granted temporary protected status, or T.P.S., to seek refuge in the United States.
“This being the worst hurricane ever recorded, what are the chances it wreaks destruction on Mexico and drives a mass migration to the U.S. border?” Ms. McHugh wrote, focusing on the possibility that large numbers of refugees might end up in the United States.
“100 percent,” Mr. Miller replied. “And they will all get TPS. And all the ones here will get TPS too. That needs to be the weekend’s BIG story. TPS is everything
Mr. Miller then shared a link from a website called VDare, which regularly publishes white nationalists and traffics in anti-immigrant messaging, to prove his point.
Ms. McHugh was fired from Breitbart in 2017 after publishing anti-Muslim Twitter posts. In an interview on Wednesday, she said she had a change of heart after being fired and now renounces far-right views.
“Miller is the most prominent architect of immigration policy within the White House,” Ms. McHugh said, “and it’s easy to draw a clear line from the white supremacist websites where he is getting his ideas to current immigration policy.”
Mr. Miller declined to comment.
Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, responded that the Southern Poverty Law Center was an “utterly discredited, long-debunked far-left smear organization.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the nation’s wealthiest and best-known legal advocacy groups, has focused a significant amount of its resources — it operates with an endowment of about $471 million — on exposing the work of extremist groups that espouse hateful ideologies.
Mr. Miller’s hard-line beliefs are reflected in the president’s language and decision making. This fall, Mr. Trump declined to grant temporary protected status to Bahamian survivors of Hurricane Dorian, a storm that devastated the islands and left at least 2,500 people missing. The administration has also sought to roll back temporary protections for citizens of El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti who have lived for years in the United States.
An email exchange from June 2015 revealed that after a white nationalist shot and killed nine black worshipers at a church in Charleston, S.C., Mr. Miller appeared concerned about the removal of Confederate merchandise from e-commerce websites like Amazon. He suggested to Ms. McHugh that she write about the Communist-era merchandise that Amazon continued to sell.
“Have you thought about going to Amazon and finding the commie flags and then doing a story on that?” Mr. Miller wrote to Ms. McHugh.
“Yes, definitely,” Ms. McHugh replied. “There’s all kinds of hammer and sickle merchandise, Che shirts, Stalin shirts … the list goes on and on.”
An article soon appeared on Breitbart about the Amazon merchandise, and the two continued to discuss the matter: “Should the cross be removed from immigrant communities, in light of the history of Spanish conquest?” Mr. Miller wrote.
In the White House, Mr. Trump has been vocal about preserving Confederate monuments. “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” he wrote in 2017 after a violent rally by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., resulted in the death of a protester.
Other emails illustrate Mr. Miller’s influence on Breitbart. Ms. McHugh also recalled a phone conversation from July 2015 in which Mr. Miller called her to discuss an article he had read on “AmRen,” shorthand to its followers for American Renaissance, a site with ties to white supremacy groups. The article, “New DOJ Statistics on Race and Violent Crime,” by Jared Taylor, the founder of American Renaissance, approvingly notes that the Justice Department had begun reporting Latinos in a separate category on crime statistics “rather than lumping them in with whites.”
Mr. Taylor also wrote that the Justice Department had “long counted Hispanics as a category in its hate crime reports. We look forward to their inclusion as a perpetrator category.”
In an email exchange from September 2015, Mr. Miller urged Breitbart editors to refer to “The Camp of the Saints,” a 1973 French novel that popularizes the idea that Western civilization will fall at the hands of immigrants. The book was covered days later by Julia Hahn, a former Breitbart writer who now works in the White House. Her job is to communicate administration talking points to surrogates.
Since the publication of the emails, several prominent Democrats, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — two members of a group of nonwhite congresswomen who have drawn the ire of the president and his supporters — have called for Mr. Miller to resign.
In a Twitter post, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez called Mr. Miller a “bonafide white nationalist” who was working at the White House to shape immigration policy. She added: “Miller must resign. Now.”
Ms. Grisham, the White House press secretary, said in an email that the Southern Poverty Law Center “has recently been forced — to its great humiliation — to issue a major retraction for other wholly-fabricated accusations.’’
Ms. Grisham was apparently referring to the fact that last year the group apologized and paid $3.3 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Maajid Nawaz, an activist whose advocacy organization the law center initially said was an “extremist” group. In March, the organization’s co-founder, Morris Dees, was fired over internal claims of mistreatment of staff, sexual harassment, gender discrimination and racism.
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