Stephen Miller duked it out with CNN's Jim Acosta Wednesday over immigration figures and charged that the CNN White House reporter holds a "cosmopolitan bias," and called his suggestion that the bill is racist "so insulting."
Miller, a White House senior policy adviser, made the charge after Acosta floated the idea of the White House only allowing immigrants into the U.S. from Great Britain and Australia because they can speak English. That was on criterion in a plan Trump endorsed aimed at giving green cards mostly to skilled immigrants who speak English, and to avoid taking in low-skilled workers that depress wages for U.S. citizens.
But Miller slammed Acosta for making the sweeping assumption that only people from Great Britain and Australia speak English.
"I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English," Miller said. "It reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree. This is an amazing moment."
He said it is "so insulting" to immigrants from other countries who speak English.
"Have you honestly never met an immigrant from another country who speaks English outside of Great Britain and Australia? Is that your personal experience?" Miller asked. "It shows your cosmopolitan bias."
Top Trump adviser blasts CNN's Jim Acosta over immigration questions: "It's one of the most ignorant and foolish things you said" pic.twitter.com/4STyZ9e0q4— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) August 2, 2017
"It sounds like you're trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country," Acosta replied.
"That's one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant, and foolish things you've ever said," Miller responded. "The notion that you think that this is a racist bill is so wrong and so insulting."
The back-and-forth came after the White House announced a proposed overhaul that would cut legal immigration and move the U.S. to a merit-based immigration system rather than the family ties-based system currently in place/
Acosta started the spirited back-and-forth by asking the top White House aide if the new proposal was "in keeping with American tradition" on immigration before citing the Statue of Liberty and the need to speak English before entering the country.
But Miller said immigration flows have changed over the years, and just because they are larger now doesn't mean flows can't be reduced without violating the law.
"In 1970, when we let in 300,000 people a year, was that violating or not violating the Statue of Liberty law of the land?" Miller asked. Acosta didn't reply.
"In the 1990s, when it was half a million a year, was it violating or not violating the Statue of Liberty law of the land?" he asked. "Tell me what years meet Jim Acosta's definition of the Statue of Liberty poem, law of the land."
"So you're saying 1 million a year is the Statue of Liberty number?" he said. "900,000 violates it? 800,00 violates it?" Miller asked.
"You're sort of bringing a press '1' for English philosophy for immigration and that's never been what the United States has ever been about," Acosta said.
Miller went on the attack after Acosta brought up Trump's plan to build a wall along the southwestern U.S. border and wondered if he understood that illegal border crossings are a completely different issue from green card policy.
"Surely, Jim, you don't actually think that a wall affects green card policy?" he asked. "You couldn't possibly believe that, do you? Do you really at CNN not know the different between green card policy and illegal immigration? You really don't know that?"