White nationalist Richard Spencer praises Stephen Miller for taking hardline anti-immigrant positions

As the national debate over immigration continues to rage, white nationalist leaders have also been weighing in.

Last week, Richard Spencer — a figurehead for the white nationalist “alt-right” — praised Trump’s senior policy advisor Stephen Miller for pushing the president further to the right on immigration.

Speaking on his “Alt-Right” podcast on January 24, Spencer stated, “Stephen Miller is singularly responsible for the fact that A: DACA isn’t just some heartwarming bill that he signs in the Rose Garden and gets nothing for, that its actually part of a deal. And B: that we’re even talking about chain migration.” Spencer later went on to say, that the topic of family reunification, decried by nativist groups as “chain migration,” “has never been in mainstream discourse in my memory and it has certainly never been part of a policy deal, and Stephen Miller deserves credit for that.”

Miller and Spencer have a history. Both attended Duke University in the mid 2000s while Miller was an undergrad and Spencer was pursuing a PhD. In a December 2016 interview with Mother Jones, Spencer admitted that he wanted to keep his relationship with Miller quiet.  “I knew [Miller] very well when I was at Duke. But I am kind of glad no one’s talked about this, because I don’t want to harm Trump.” In another interview with Vanity Fair six months later, Spencer was more open, claiming that he mentored Miller, calling him “ballsy,” before adding “But I do think that Stephen probably would’ve ended up exactly more or less where he is today whether he had met me or not.”

In their time together at Duke, Miller helped Spencer organize an immigration debate on campus featuring white nationalist Peter Brimelow, founder of VDARE.com, a hub for white nationalists and antisemites who decry non-white immigration to the United States.

Spencer also praised VDARE and other anti-immigrant groups on the January 24 podcast for their dedication to attacking “chain migration.” Spencer noted that so-called chain migration, “has been talked about by the kosher immigration reform movement for many years to their credit. VDARE, but beyond VDARE, Numbers and you know Carrying Capacity, FAIR, all that kind of stuff. To their credit.” The “numbers” group Spencer is referring to is NumbersUSA, the mobilizing arm of the anti-immigrant movement and FAIR is the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an SPLC-designated anti-immigrant hate group.

As scholar Steven Gardiner notes in his 2005 paper, “White Nationalism Revisited,” “[t]here are also organizations, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) for example, that in their push for mainstream acceptance vehemently denying racist motivations, even while playing to radicalized fears and allying themselves with doctrine white nationalists.” In other words, anti-immigrant animus is the key issue that links white nationalists like Spencer to the organized anti-immigrant movement.

While Miller has denounced Spencer, he has lavished praise on the anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies, a group he frequently cites including the debunked claim that 72 terrorists came from countries covered under the Muslim ban.  

Miller serves as the bridge between these nativist hate groups and the White House, and his efforts to push the White House’s immigration stance to a more nativist one has resulted in ample reverence from white nationalists and anti-immigrant groups alike. 

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