A White House aide close to senior policy adviser Stephen Miller who has advocated strict limits on immigration into the U.S. has been selected for a top State Department post overseeing refugee admissions, according to current and former State officials.
Andrew Veprek’s appointment as a deputy assistant secretary in State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) is alarming pro-immigration activists who fear President Donald Trump is trying to effectively end the U.S. refugee resettlement program.
Current and former officials also describe Veprek’s appointment as a blow to an already-embattled refugee bureau. Trump has has made clear his disdain for liberal immigration policies, and the bureau has been adrift under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — even as a record 65 million people are displaced around the world due to war, famine and other calamities.
The bureau’s website says that it “provides aid and sustainable solutions for refugees, victims of conflict and stateless people around the world, through repatriation, local integration, and resettlement in the United States.” It adds that the bureau “also promotes the United States’ population and migration policies.”
Veprek is a Foreign Service officer detailed to the White House, which listed him as an “immigration adviser” in a 2017 staff document. He has worked closely there with Miller and the Domestic Policy Council, according to a current State official and a former one in touch with people still serving in the department.
In interagency debates, some administration officials have viewed Veprek as representing Miller’s hard-line views about limiting entry into the U.S. for refugees and other immigrants.
Veprek played an influential role in Trump administration’s December withdrawal from international talks on a non-binding global pact on migration issues. He also argued in favor of dramatically lowering the nation’s annual cap on refugee admissions, the current and former officials said.