Earlier this month, people breathe a sigh of relief after President Donald Trump finally approved a relief budget for Puerto Rico and other Americans on the mainland who were also recovering from natural disasters. The $19 billion approved budget came more than a year and a half after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Needless to say, Trump was dragging his feet to give Puerto Rico the money they deserved to survive. Now it seems he is dragging his feet once again.
This couldn’t come at a more terrible time because, as CNN reports, Puerto Rico’s food stamp program was shut down six months ago. This money isn’t just for food but for basic necessities such as hygiene products, diapers, and water.
The delay in food stamps not only affects Puerto Ricans on the island but also possibly citizens on the mainland.
According to Eater, the food stamp program is going under a major overhaul which could delay more than 400,000 households without food stamps.
“Currently, federal guidelines allow states to offers families assistance if their annual gross income is 200 percent of the federal poverty level,” Eater reports. “The new limits, which officials anticipate will be introduced soon, are expected to prevent states from providing food assistance to families earning more than 130 percent of poverty guidelines or $33,475 for a family of four.”
So what’s the holdup? A lot of red tape, which could mean delays until September.
Glorimar Andújar Matos, executive director of the Departamento de la Familia, told the Washington Post that more than a million people on the island rely on food stamps, which means if they don’t get those funds soon, there will be another crisis on our hands.
On Friday, the Trump administration announced that it would be blocking future downloads of social media app TikTok starting on midnight on Sunday.
“At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross
The Trump Administraiton is also taking action against the popular messaging and payment app WeChat, banning American companies from hosting the app’s internet traffic or processing transactions for the app (one of its key features).
Both TikTok and WeChat are the two most popular tech exports from China.
TikTok is a popular video-sharing platform that allows users to share 15-second videos of themselves dancing and lip-syncing to popular music (among other things). The app recently exploded in popularity, racking up 99.8 million downloads in the first six months of 2020.
TikTok, specifically, has recently come under fire for violating Google privacy policies. TikTok collects and documents massive amounts of data from their users, like videos watched and commented on, location data, device type, and copy-and-paste “clipboard” contents. The app even records people’s keystroke rhythms as they type.
The Trump Administration has long been suspicious of TikTok’s data-collection, speculating that TikTok might be sending the data to the Chinese government.
The Trump administration has argued that such massive amounts of data in the hands of a foreign government is a threat to national security. TikTok denies that they are handing over the data to the Chinese government.
TikTok, for their part, are not hiding their displeasure about the ban, releasing a public statement saying: “We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the US of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods.”
This isn’t the first time TikTok has gone toe-to-toe with the Trump administration. The social media company sued the administration in August after Trump signed an executive order enacting broad sanctions against the app. TikTok claimed that the order denied the company of due process.
The TikTok ban is making waves because it marks the first time the U.S. has banned a tech app on the basis of national security concerns.
But some critics are saying that there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason behind the ban. “It just feels to me to be improvisational,” said cyber-security expert Adam Segal.
Both TikTok users and concerned Americans have taken to the internet to express their anger at the Trump administration’s decision.
“Don’t be mistaken folks,” said one Twitter user. “Sunday it will be TikTok. Tomorrow it will be twitter, FB, Instagram…you name it…We must protect free speech!”
Another pointed out the hypocrisy of Trump targeting China when he doesn’t seem to be as concerned about Russia meddling in our internet affairs. “I live in a world where TikTok is a threat to national security but Russian interference in our elections is not,” she said. “This is Trump’s America.”
First was a Supreme Court decision that found the Trump administration wasn’t being totally honest about it’s reasoning for including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census – so the court effectively removed the question from the census.
Then, Trump tried to delay the constitutionally mandated census to give his administration more time to come up with a better reason to tell the courts.
None of that worked as planned by the administration, and the Census has continued as normal. However, so many in minority communities – particularly migrant communities – have been fearful of completing this year’s census. Well, new evidence shows just how important it is to make sure we’re all counted.
As the 2020 census winds down, here’s a reminder of why it’s so important to make sure we all complete our census.
Now, more than ever, it is the responsibility of Latinos to fill out the census, or else miss-out on integral funding and representation.
The 2020 Census is ending early, thanks to a decision by the Trump administration to end data collection and outreach sooner than initially planned, which could lead to massive undercounts within BIPOC communities.
The Latinx population is already at a higher risk of being undercounted because of language barriers, fears over immigrant status, and for living in hard-to-reach areas. Latinx leaders are continuously pushing for increased visibility and accessibility to fill-out the census, especially now, as many issues have been overshadowed by a global pandemic.
But at some point, it is not the responsibility of our leaders, but for citizens to take initiative.
Take for instance, Rep. Nanette Barragán’s district in Los Angeles. In 2010, her district had a self-response rate of 68.6%. Now with the one-month cut-off and the ending of household outreach nearly two weeks early in some areas, her district is now just at 60.1%.
“We cannot let them erase us,” Barragán wrote
But it wasn’t long ago that Trump tried to completely derail this year’s census.
The Trump administration has decided to print the 2020 census forms without a citizenship question, and the printer has been told to start the printing process, Justice Department spokesperson Kelly Laco confirms to NPR.
The move came shortly after the Supreme Court ruled to keep the question off census forms for now and just a day after printing was scheduled to begin for 1.5 billion paper forms, letters, and other mailings.
President Trump had said he wanted to delay the constitutionally mandated headcount to give the Supreme Court a chance to issue a more “decisive” ruling on whether the administration could add the question, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” A majority of the justices found that the administration’s use of the Voting Rights Act to justify the question “seems to have been contrived.”
But according to Trump, all of that info from his own administration is fake news.
President Trump had tweeted that his own Commerce Secretary’s statement, suggesting there would not be pushback on the Supreme Court’s decision to leave a citizenship question out of the census, was “FAKE.”
Here’s his own Tweet about the #fakenews:
The saga to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census and the emerging divisions within the Trump administration to its implementation follow a months-long court battle that ultimately ended up with a narrow Supreme Court victory for opponents of the question.
Though many on Twitter were already fact-checking the President using statements from his own administration.
I mean if they’ve already started printing the forms, according to numerous administration officials, what could the President be talking about?
Many speculate he’s just trying to position himself as a fighter among his supporters so they think he’s doing all he can to get the citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
All this confusion comes on the heels of a Supreme Court decision that ruled the Trump administration wasn’t being forthcoming about its real reason for wanting to ask the citizenship question.
The Supreme Court left the citizenship question — “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” — blocked from the 2020 census for now, in part because of the government’s explanation for why it added it in the first place.
However, opponents of the question, who have worked for more than a year to get it removed, are claiming victory.
The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, said the court “cannot ignore the disconnect between the decision made and the explanation given” by the Trump administration.