The mystery of why the Trump administration considers Stephen Miller an effective spokesman for its policies continues.
Miller appeared on Fox News Sunday to defend the president’s declaration of a national emergency in order to build his big, beautiful dumb wall on the nation’s southern border. He faced off against host Chris Wallace, who has been a vocal skeptic of the move. Wallace, to his credit, pushed back on some of Miller’s points. He was armed with statistics that seemed to undercut the administration’s case, which led Miller into some Donald Rumsfeld-esque “known unknowns” territory.
For example, Wallace noted that the number of undocumented immigrants stopped crossing the border illegally in 2017 was barely a quarter of the number stopped in 2000. The government’s own data shows that 80 to 90 percent of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl being smuggled into the country comes through legal ports of entry, not across the vast, wide-open desert. He also noted that in 2017, the number of people in the country illegally because they overstayed a visa was double the number that had crossed the border illegally.
Miller responds with a bunch of gobbledygook about judicial activism and the increasing sophistication of the methods used by smugglers, particularly those bringing migrants across the border:
“What you see a sophisticated operations and smugglers will actually push out migrants and children and family units to divert border agents on them because there’s not secured areas with a wall, they will then cross after the border agents have been diverted to those areas.”
So according to Miller, the border is not more secure than it was in 2000. Smugglers have just started using the “look over there” trick that people use to fool their dogs into thinking they have thrown a ball across the yard.
None of this is backed up by any numbers on Miller’s part. He just obfuscated with a bunch of hysteria about how not securing the border is a “fundamental betrayal of the American people” and “you cannot conceive of a nation without a strong border.” But he has zero data to counter Wallace’s point that the majority of people in the country illegally are here because of border overstays, not because they snuck in across the wall-free desert when someone pulled the “look over there” trick on the Border Patrol. He has nothing to counter the statistics about drug smuggling other than his own belief that it must be wrong.
In other words, there are known unknowns.
A moment later, Miller makes that point in such a way as to make the Rumsfeld echoes almost eerie:
“The problem with the statement that you’re apprehending 89 or 90 percent of drugs at ports of entry, that’s like saying you apprehend the most contraband at TSA checkpoints at airports. You intercept the contraband there because that’s where you have the people, that’s where you have the screeners. I assure you if we had people of that same density and screeners of that same density across every single inch and mile of the southern border, you would have more drugs interdicted in those areas. You don’t know what you don’t know when you don’t catch what you don’t catch.“
The nation has heard this before, and it does not turn out well. But then, Miller is a fanatic. And a fanatic will not be slowed down by something so trivial as knowledge and evidence.
Watch the entire interview in the video at the top of the post.