As the shutdown of the U.S. government stretches into its third day, reports suggest that President Donald Trump has shown willingness to work towards compromise on the legal status of DACA recipients, the “Dreamers” brought to the U.S. illegally as children. But two staffers—chief of staff John Kelly and senior policy adviser Stephen Miller—have reportedly resisted such compromises.
Part of the problem, according to the New York Times, is Trump’s difficulty in clearly expressing his own policy goals on immigration. Kelly and Miller have twice walked back Trump’s statements that he would like to reach a compromise to protect Dreamers.
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Pushing back against a DACA extension would align with Miller’s strongly held—if sometimes awkwardly expressed—stances on immigration and identity. Along with Steve Bannon, Miller was reportedly an architect of the Trump administration’s first travel ban, which courts swiftly blocked as a violation of constitutional due process. In August, Miller suggested on CNN that the famous Statue of Liberty poem welcoming immigrants “yearning to breathe free” should not be cited to support open immigration policies.
Kelly has also been described as a hard-liner on immigration, and reportedly played a role in undermining a previous bipartisan deal that might have prevented the current shutdown.