President Donald Trump’s chief immigration adviser Stephen Miller has been trying to use a law designed to protect the U.S. from diseases overseas as a way to close the borders long before the coronavirus outbreak, The New York Times reports.
Miller advocated for the immigration restriction last year when mumps spread through immigration detention facilities in six states. He tried again when the flu struck Border Patrol stations.
In 2018, he asked for updates on the health status of migrants who came across U.S. borders. When dozens of migrants in federal custody became ill and two children died, it bolstered his argument that Trump should use his public health powers to seal the borders.
But Cabinet secretaries and lawyers always talked the president out of using the health power to restrict the borders. They argued there wasn’t enough of a legal basis.
The coronavirus changed that opinion and the White House began closing its borders shortly after the disease’s arrival.
The law Miller wants to implement gives power to the surgeon general and president to block people from entering the U.S. when it is necessary to avert a “serious danger” posed by the presence of a communicable disease in foreign countries.
Sources told the newspaper that Miller said the steps taken to stop nonessential travel, pause processing green cards and prevent migrants from crossing the boarder are only the first steps in a broader plan to restrict legal immigration.
The White House has called its actions necessary as an urgent response to the pandemic.
But former officials told The New York Times the measures implemented were retooled from old draft executive orders and policy discussions that have taken place repeatedly since Trump became president.
One official said using public health and other emergency powers had been on a “wish list” of about 50 ideas to curb immigration that Miller crafted within the first six months of the administration.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.