Why I could no longer serve this president
President Trump speaks to the press about protests in Charlottesville in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York on Aug. 15, 2017. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
By John D. Feeley March 9 at 7:34 AM
John D. Feeley, who retired this week as a U.S. diplomat, will soon be working with Univision and the Fusion Media Group on immigration-themed content.
Shortly after the Charlottesville riots last August, I made the private decision to step down as President Trump’s personal representative and ambassador to the government of Panama. The president’s failure to condemn the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who provoked the violence made me realize that my values were not his values. I never meant for my decision to resign to be a public political statement. Sadly, it became one.
The details of how that happened are less important than the demoralizing take-away: When career public servants take an oath to communicate dissent only in protected channels, Trump administration officials do not protect that promise of privacy.
Leaking is not new in Washington. But leaking a sitting ambassador’s personal resignation letter to the president, as mine was, is something else. This was a painful indication that the current administration has little respect for those who have served the nation apolitically for decades.
On February 8, 17 Jewish organizations sent a letter authored and organized by NCJW to White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly expressing our deep concern thatSenior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller does not belong in national leadership due to his extreme viewpoints and advocacy of racist policies.
February 8, 2018
General John F. Kelly
White House Chief of Staff
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear General Kelly:
We, the undersigned Jewish agencies and organizations, are writing to share our deep concern that Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller does not belong in national leadership due to his extreme viewpoints and advocacy of racist policies.
As Jews, we are in solidarity with immigrants and refugees and believe that our nation must be a refuge and welcoming home for new Americans. Our people have been persecuted too many times in history for us to do otherwise. Not only our history but our holy texts teach us this: we are commanded by the Torah to welcome the stranger, for we were once strangers in the land of Egypt. We believe that we are all made b’tzelem Elohim, or “in the image of God.” Every person is deserving of a dignified and safe life, regardless of race, religion, nationality or any other identity.
Stephen Miller’s views on immigration are extreme and dangerous, and he has been an obstacle to passing widely-supported, bipartisan, popular, badly-needed immigration policy changes throughout his time in the administration. There will be no forward motion for immigrants and refugees while he advises the president, despite bipartisan support, to the detriment of all who live and work in this country. Immigrants are a vital part of American society and crucial to our country’s businesses. They are also human beings deserving of a decent life, out of the shadows.
Miller’s views are anathema to our Jewish and American values. They’re outside the mainstream, and they have no place in the White House. Throughout his professional career, Miller has made no secret of his belief that immigration should be restricted and that immigrants are bad for our country. With then-Senator Sessions, Miller helped orchestrate the defeat of comprehensive immigration reform in 2014. He worked closely with Breitbart Media, a platform for the alt-right and white supremacist movements, and was a reliable media presence to comment on anti-immigrant and nativist policies. During the 2016 election, Miller was a frequent warm-up act at Trump’s campaign rallies, revving up the crowd by invoking the image of immigrants as criminals, telling rally attendees “We’re going to build [the wall] out of love for every family who wants to raise their kids in safety and peace.”
During his time in the White House, Miller’s hard line stance against immigrants has informed and even directed the administration’s policies. Miller was the architect of the first and second Muslim and Refugee bans, which blocked people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. He orchestrated cuts to the refugee program, resulting in the lowest admissions number in modern history during the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Miller helped author the now infamous list of the administration’s immigration priorities, which include building a border wall, defunding sanctuary cities, eliminating the diversity visa program, and changing the nation’s entire immigration system from one based on family unification to one based on speaking English and being light-skinned. These priorities have been cited as a prerequisite to any immigration negotiations. They are grotesquely anti-immigrant, and against the values of most Americans and certainly the Jewish community which our organizations represent.
Miller’s racist views should be enough to disqualify him from the White House, and his sway over President Trump has made it nearly impossible for Congress to move forward on a bipartisan deal to protect Dreamers — which 70-80% of Americans support. Senator Lindsey Graham held up Miller as an outlier even within their own party, and other Members of Congress point to Miller as a barrier to any type of agreement on immigration.
Our organizations, and the millions of Jews we represent, are in solidarity with immigrants and refugees as a reflection of our Jewish values and our American values. When our nation opens its doors, our families, communities, schools, and congregations thrive. Unlike Miller, we believe that the Statue of Liberty, by which so many of our own families passed during their journeys to the United States, is a potent symbol of the best our country has to offer — welcome and hope.
Stephen Miller opposes the beliefs we hold dear, and while he advises President Trump there will be no forward movement on immigration — to the detriment of this great nation founded by immigrants. We urge you to remove Miller from your team and the White House as soon as possible.
American Jewish World Service
Americans for Peace Now
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Habonim Dror North America
Jewish Community Action
Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
Jewish Labor Committee
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ)
Jews United for Justice
National Council of Jewish Women
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
The Workmen’s Circle