WASHINGTON — White House senior adviser Stephen Miller battled reporters from The New York Times and CNN during Wednesday’s press briefing taking the reins from President Trump on the war on “fake news.”
Miller was at the briefing in support of the Raise Act, a Senate bill that would cut immigration by half over ten years and represent the most significant immigration reform in over half a century. The bill, which is sponsored by Republican senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, would accomplish this by implementing a merit-based immigration system and largely ending the current practice of immigrants bringing over large amounts of family members.
New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush and CNN reporter Jim Acosta both were skeptical about the bill at the White House press briefing. Miller’s exchange with Acosta was the most fiery, with the White House adviser telling Acosta that his “cosmopolitan bias” is being exposed to a “shocking degree.”
Acosta had asked whether the legislation is in accord with the 1883 poem on the Statue of Liberty that states, “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.”
“It doesn’t say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer,” Acosta said. “Aren’t you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country if you’re telling them, you have to speak English when they get here?”
Miller pointed out that American citizens need to be able to speak English and added, “so the notion that speaking English wouldn’t be a part of immigration systems would be very ahistorical.”
Acosta later interrupted Miller and asked, “are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?”
“I have to say, I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English. It’s all — it reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree that in your mind — no, this is an amazing moment,” Miller shot back. The immigration hawk and former Jeff Sessions staffer continued, “Jim, have you honestly never met an immigrant from another country who speaks English outside of Great Britain and Australia?”
The mood in the briefing room was more tense than usual with a mix of laughter and angry muttering. This exchange came shortly after Miller was questioned by Thrush whether he has statistics to back up his claim that low-skill immigrants hurt American workers. Miller cited studies, yet this wasn’t enough to please Thrush, and Miller remarked, “Maybe we’ll make a carve-out in the bill that says The New York Times can hire all the less skilled, low paid workers from other countries and see how you feel about low wage substitution.”
When White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took the podium, she remarked, “That was exciting.”
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