In a new book about the Trump administration’s family-separation crisis, former Department of Homeland Security spokesperson and Broward County native Katie Miller is quoted as asking: “Why do we need to have ‘Little Havana’?”
Separated, a new book by NBC News reporter Jacob Soboroff, explores the Trump administration’s policy of taking children from their parents at the U.S-Mexico border. On Monday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow previewed and read aloud an excerpt from the book.
“My family and colleagues told me that when I have kids I’ll think about the separations differently,” Miller told Soboroff. “But I don’t think so… DHS sent me to the border to see the separations for myself — to try to make me more compassionate — but it didn’t work.”
Soboroff said he was taken aback by Miller’s answer. In response, he asked if she was a white nationalist. She answered no but added she believes that people who come to America should assimilate.
“If you come to America, you should assimilate. Why do we need to have ‘Little Havana’?” she said.
The remarks by Miller, the wife of White House immigration adviser Stephen Miller and the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, immediately struck a nerve in the Miami community and beyond. Local leaders were quick to decry her on Twitter, with some urging Florida Republicans such as Gov. Ron DeSantis, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to condemn her statements.
State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, a Democrat who represents parts of Miami-Dade County, tells New Times that the notion of wanting immigrants and exiles in America to stop being Hispanic is “outrageous.”
“Nobody should be expected to give up their identity — cultural or otherwise — to become an American,” he says.
Rodríguez notes that while he would like to invite Miller to Little Havana to learn more about the diverse and vibrant culture of the neighborhood, he feels her ethnocentric ideologies are too deeply rooted.
“I don’t know that she’s somebody who’s expressing enough goodwill that I would invite her to come see Little Havana for herself,” he says. “I don’t think I would want to inflict that on my community.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala of Miami issued a statement saying that as the granddaughter of immigrants, Miller’s remarks left her “shocked and disgusted.” She added that Miller’s comments “suggest a complete ignorance of what Little Havana has meant for our community, state, and country.”
“Though seeing children ripped from their families did not move Ms. Miller, I invite her to visit Little Havana so our diverse community can teach her about the tremendous contributions its residents have made to America,” Shalala said.
Katie Miller recently married Stephen Miller, a White House senior policy adviser notorious for helping craft Trump’s most brutal immigration policies. He’s also known for his promotion of white-nationalist ideologies.
Katie Miller was raised about 40 miles from Little Havana in predominately white Weston, a planned community in western Broward county. She attended college at the University of Florida — where, in 2012 she was caught dumping copies of the school’s student newspaper, The Independent Florida Alligator, on the eve of student-government elections.
She didn’t respond to New Times‘ requests for comment.