No one will claim that Rex Tillerson was a popular or respected Secretary of State, and the extent to which disagreement between him and his boss, Donald Trump, over various foreign policy issues led to the March 13 announcement that Tillerson has been fired and replaced by CIA chief Mike Pompeo is beyond the scope of these comments in any event.

But a by now almost forgotten December 23, 2017 New York Times story indicates that disagreement over visa policy, particularly toward black immigrants, may have had something to do with Tillerson's ouster.

The Times reported that in a White House meeting, Trump complained that the US was admitting too many immigrants from countries such as Haiti, where, according to the president, "they all have AIDS" and Nigeria, whose immigrants to the US, Trump stated "would never go back to their huts".

While the White House, predictably, denied these specific statements, there can be little doubt that Trump expressed dissatisfaction with admitting dark skinned immigrants, as he reaffirmed only three weeks later in his notorious "shithole" comment.

According to the same NY Times story, Tillerson asked in reply to Trump whether the president wanted him to stop issuing visas altogether.

Nor is there any reason to believe that these were isolated, merely incidental conversations. As long ago as last July, the Washington Post reported that the was a movement inside the White House led by Trump's top immigration Steve Miller, whose record shows that he is no friend of non-European immigrants, and who is widely believed to have written Trump's jingoistic July 6, 2017 Warsaw, Poland speech favoring "Western Civilization"ueber alles (to borrow a favorite expression from WW2 Germany), to switch control over visa issuance from the State Department to DHS. See, July 9, 2017:

Battle emerging inside Trump administration over who controls immigration and refugees

(Please go to Google to access - I do not have a link.)

Ironically, if DHS were to take control of issuing and refusing visas, instead of DOS, that could conceivably make it harder for Trump to carry out a whites-only policy in this crucially important area of immigration, because it is well settled that DHS immigration approvals and denials are subject to review by the federal courts, whereas US consular visa refusals are not subject to court review except in the very narrow circumstances set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972).

Trump and Miller might want to be careful what they wish for.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law