Inside the White House, the executive order was viewed as a serious blow to senior presidential adviser Stephen Miller, including by Miller himself. The White House’s most vocal immigration hawk has told allies that it will be impossible for the administration to maintain its so-called “zero tolerance” policy while keeping parents and children together, and that a return to the “catch and release” policy of previous administrations, where undocumented immigrants are freed inside the U.S. and told to show up for court hearings, is the most likely outcome.
Another former administration official said the mess over separations would also imperil Miller’s other policy moves on immigration, including several draft executive orders and proposed agency rules that he had hoped to roll out before the mid-term to appeal to the president’s conservative base.
Miller’s detractors, meanwhile, blame the current state of affairs on a policy process that he has managed unilaterally. They describe an unspoken truce between Miller – who had originally hoped to control the entire White House policy shop, exerting his influence on trade and other issues as he did during Trump’s 2016 campaign – and some of the president’s other policy advisers, such as former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn.