Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar said she believes that Stephen Miller, the former White House aide and noted white supremacist who was a main architect of the previous administration’s most inhumane and cruel anti-immigrant policies, “should be behind bars.”
“I think he committed heinous human rights violations,” she recently told The Intercept, “and I think that those around him who helped plot this out should be held accountable as well.” One of the foremost advocates in Congress for immigrants, Escobar represents the El Paso region, where the previous administration “piloted” the family separation policy in 2017. Nearly four years later, some of those families still remain separated.
In just one example of Miller’s cruelty, NBC News reported last year that while the previous administration had already been “piloting” family separation in the region well before former Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III formally announced the policy in May 2018, it was all going far too slow for Miller. He apparently desired that as many as 25,000 children be stolen from their parents, and during a White House meeting reportedly forced a vote through a show of hands on proceeding. Attorneys representing separated families have been seeking documents regarding this meeting.
Miller deserves to be held to account—along with officials like former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen—but Escobar admits the reality of a system that shields powerful people like them. “That is going to be very difficult, but it kills me that these people could potentially walk away—and even potentially rebuild their reputations,” she continued in the report. “I mean, I find them to be just among the most reprehensible, abhorrent people that our generation could have ever produced.”
While President Joe Biden has created a federal task force to reunite families separated at the southern border by the previous administration, other leaders in Congress have also expressed the urgency to hold former political appointees and officials like Miller accountable. Late last year, Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro publicly called for the formation of a special committee to investigate this humanitarian disaster and those who created it.
“I believe that, given the human rights abuses during the Trump administration, it would be appropriate for the United States to create either a human rights commission or for the Congress to create a select committee that investigates these abuses, makes recommendations for policy changes so that they don’t happen again in our country, and identifies individuals who should be held responsible and accountable for their actions,” Castro told Vox.
“The commission itself would not necessarily have the authority to prosecute,” he continued. “But just as with other committees, information could be forwarded to the Department of Justice for consideration of legal proceedings. Ultimately, any decision to prosecute would be separate and apart from the commission itself.” Just as Escobar fears that officials like Miller could potentially walk away, he and other former officials with the previous administration have already been plotting their next moves.
Miller is reportedly creating a group basically seeking to troll the Biden administration with lawsuits. “Anything the president does that we believe to be illegal is fair game,” Miller said according to The Wall Street Journal. One gets the feeling it’ll be just about everything. Miller should at the very least be treated as a pariah, yet congressional Republicans have brought him back for advice on immigration. He’s even been invited to at least one campaign event. Unlawfully appointed former acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, meanwhile, is opening up his own consulting firm with a handful of other officials from that administration.
Unlawful Chad’s new venture stated that “[m]y passion continues to be to help [DHS] accomplish their mission,” Politico reported. His “passions” while at DHS included being among the early architects of family separation, NBC News reported in 2019. “As far back as December 2017, when Wolf was acting chief of staff to [then-Secretary Kirstjen] Nielsen, he sent a list of 16 options to curb the number of undocumented immigrants to Gene Hamilton, counselor to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for review. Number two on the list: ‘Separate family units.’”
In her interview, Escobar further stressed a fundamental need to move away from failed deterrence-based policies not just from the previous administration, but over several decades, that have only resulted in the suffering of children and families. “I really do feel that this is a moment of reckoning,” she said. “And it is a moment of reckoning where we should recognize our colossal failure in the past, but the opportunity in the future.”