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Weekend Read: Trump's anti-immigrant crusader

Stephen Bannon may have left the White House, but anti-immigrant nativism didn't go anywhere. 

Editor's note: Stephen Miller denies that Richard Spencer has mentored him.

President Trump made that abundantly clear when he trumpeted an “America first” philosophy at the U.N. General Assembly this week, touting the importance of national sovereignty and warning that “major portions of the world are … going to hell.”

Behind the speech was none other than Stephen Miller, Trump’s anti-immigrant chief policy adviser.

Miller has flown lower on the national radar than other Trump administration extremists like Bannon or former terrorism adviser Sebastian Gorka, but his background is just as alarming.

While he was still a senator from Alabama, Attorney General Jeff Sessions hired Miller as an aide at the recommendation of David Horowitz, a driving force behind the anti-Muslim extremist movement. Miller was fresh from a college mentorship under white nationalist leader Richard Spencer, writing columns so racist they would stun his future colleagues at Sessions’ Senate office.

By the time Miller left Sessions to join the Trump campaign, he had been further steeped in the ideology and rhetoric of the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

Founded by John Tanton, the father of today’s nativist movement, CIS began as a program of the hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and presents itself as an independent think tank conducting serious immigration scholarship.

The fact is, however, CIS has frequently manipulated data to achieve results that align with its nativism — results that Miller’s former boss, Sessions, has endorsed and a methodology that Miller seems to have taken to heart.

This week, The New York Times reports that Miller likely played a role in censoring data that shows the positive economic impact of resettling refugees in the United States. The Department of Health and Human Services found that refugees brought in $63 million more than they cost over the past decade. Miller, the Times wrote, “personally intervened” to make sure that the administration’s report would exclude that fact.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Miller used the White House to fulfill the fantasies of a nativist hate group. First exposed to the anti-Muslim Center for Security Policy (CSP) under Sessions, who received an award from the group in 2015, Miller worked with Bannon to write the Muslim ban that CSP has long called for.

Bannon left the White House in August, returning to head Breitbart News, “the platform for the alt-right,” as he has called it. But Miller is still in the White House, serving as a key — and dangerous — bridge between the hate groups he has long consorted with and the federal government.

This week’s U.N. speech is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Editors

P.S. Here are some other pieces we think are valuable this week:

SPLC’s Weekend Readings are a weekly summary of the most important news reporting and commentary from around the country on civil rights, economic and racial inequality, and hate and extremism. Sign up to receive Weekend Readings every Saturday morning.