Trump adviser Stephen Miller threatens to do "whatever is necessary to build the border wall"

Stephen Miller, Trump's senior advisor on policy, says that Trump will shut down the government for a border wall

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 16, 2018 4:00PM (EST)

Stephen Miller (Getty/Mandel Ngan)
Stephen Miller (Getty/Mandel Ngan)

President Trump's senior policy adviser Stephen Miller made it clear on Sunday that the White House will do whatever it takes to secure funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, including shutting down the government.

"We're gonna do whatever is necessary to build the border wall, to stop this ongoing crisis of illegal immigration," Miller explained during an appearance on CBS News' "Face The Nation" on Sunday.

When asked if he would be willing to see the government shut down in order to fund Trump's border wall, Miller responded, "If it comes to it, absolutely. This is a very fundamental issue. At stake is the question of whether or not the United States remains a sovereign country, whether or not we can establish and enforce rules for entrance into our country. The Democrat Party has a simple choice: They can either choose to fight for America's working class or to promote illegal immigration. You can't do both."

Although Miller would not discuss whether the Trump administration was going to insist on a $5 billion price tag, he jumped at the chance to repeat his earlier talking points blaming Democrats for America's perceived immigration issues.

"If the Democrat Party wants to go down the road of continuing to preserve a model that enriches smuggling organizations, that spreads misery on both sides of the border, that kills 300 Americans a week through heroin overdoses alone — and by the way, illegal heroin costs our country $230 billion every single year ..." Miller explained before being cut off.

As Scott Wong and Mike Lillis of The Hill wrote in an editorial published on Sunday, there are a number of reasons why it will be difficult for Trump to pass the buck if a shutdown occurs.

But days away from another potential shutdown, it’s the GOP that seems sure to take the blame.

The House has been unable to pass a measure to fund the government that would meet Trump’s demand for $5 billion in funding for his wall at the Mexican border.

The party is also depressed after a House election that saw them lose the majority and 40 seats. Leadership in the House is in transition, with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) focused on his farewell speeches.

And Trump’s shocking declaration that he would be “proud” to shutter the government unless he gets his border wall all but ensured that blame will fall on Republicans if no agreement is sealed.

That last point deserves special attention, as it refers to a public meeting earlier this month between Trump and the leading Democrats in Congress, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Minority Leader (and speaker-in-waiting) Nancy Pelosi of California. Trump declared to Schumer, "I'll tell you what, I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. So, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it."

He later added, "I don't mind having the issue of border security on my side. If we have to shut down the country over border security, I actually like that. It's something the country needs. It's common sense. The country needs it."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa