White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, the genius behind the Trump administration’s family separation policy, has been an insufferable fascist turd going at least back to high school. And his role as Donald Trump’s top reactionary appears to be weighing heavily on his more liberal family members, such as his uncle David Glosser, who wrote a takedown in Politico today that documented Miller’s ancestry. You will probably not be surprised to learn that his family’s history in America dates back to a refugee.
Glosser has been outspoken about his opposition to Miller and his policies for a while. In October 2016, he posted a long Facebook response to an article in the Johnstown, PA, Tribune-Democrat about a Miller appearance at a Trump campaign rally which recounted their shared family history. In his Politico piece, Glosser writes of Wolf-Leib Glosser, a Belarusian Jew who fled Tsarist Russia for New York and later settled in Johnstown. Eventually, he and his family started a department store, which by the 1980s had been expanded to dozens of stores under the names Gee Bee and Dollar Bargain in Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
As you can probably guess, the twist is that Wolf-Leib Glosser—an immigrant who fled for America—is Stephen Miller’s ancestor. “I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses—the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants—been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom,” he writes. (According to Glosser, most of the Jews who remained in the place Wolf-Leib fled later died in the Holocaust.)
Glosser, a neuropsychologist, relays the story of an Eritrean refugee named Joseph who ultimately came to America and now lives in Pennsylvania. It includes this pretty brutal own of his nephew:
Before Donald Trump had started his political ascent promulgating the false story that Barack Obama was a foreign-born Muslim, while my nephew, Stephen, was famously recovering from the hardships of his high school cafeteria in Santa Monica, Joseph was a child on his own in Sudan in fear of being deported back to Eritrea to face execution for desertion.
He worked any job he could get, saved his money and made his way through Sudan. He endured arrest and extortion in Libya. He returned to Sudan, then kept moving to Dubai, Brazil, and eventually to a southern border crossing into Texas, where he sought asylum. In all of the countries he traveled through during his ordeal, he was vulnerable, exploited and his status was “illegal.” But in the United States he had a chance to acquire the protection of a documented immigrant.
Today, at 30, Joseph lives in Pennsylvania and has a wife and child. He is a smart, warm, humble man of great character who is grateful for every day of his freedom and safety. He bears emotional scars from not seeing his parents or siblings since he was 14. He still trembles, cries and struggles for breath when describing his torture, and he bears physical scars as well. He hopes to become a citizen, return to work and make his contribution to America.
While the piece is a helpful reminder that the American right’s opposition to immigration throughout history has always been rooted in nativism, we didn’t even need to look back that far for evidence of the Trump administration’s hypocrisy on immigration. Last week, Melania Trump’s parents received citizenship using the same family-based migration method which the president derides as “chain migration” and wants to severely limit. Funny how things work like that.