Things That Matter

The Supreme Court Just Let Trump’s Border Wall Move Forward Using Billions In Military Funds To Pay For It

Donald Trump will stop at nothing to close our borders and build his beloved border wall and now he’s seemingly closer to reaching that goal. Despite constant opposition by immigrant rights advocates and politicians, Trump just received funding for his administration to move forward with the construction of a border wall. 

On Friday, the Supreme Court gave Trump a victory in his fight for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border allowing his administration to use $2.5 billion for it.

According to the New York Times, the $2.5 billion in funding will come from the Pentagon. “In a 5-to-4 ruling, the court overturned an appellate decision and said that the administration could tap the money while litigation over the matter proceeds,” reports the NYT. “But that will most likely take many months or longer, allowing Mr. Trump to move ahead before the case returns to the Supreme Court after further proceedings in the appeals court.” 

When news broke, Trump, of course, took to Twitter to gloat about his latest “victory.” 

Trump also followed up his initial tweet by saying: “Democrats don’t care about Border Security. They refuse to give the votes necessary to fix the Loopholes and Asylum. Would be so easy! They want Open Borders, which means CRIME, CRIME, CRIME!” 

The ruling on Trump’s border wall construction–using military funds–happened on the same day that he signed an agreement with Guatemala to limit asylum seekers. According to NPR, Guatemala agreed to sign a so-called “safe third country asylum agreement.” The agreement states that migrants traveling through Guatemala from countries including Honduras and El Salvador would need to claim asylum in Guatemala first instead of the United States. The “safe third country asylum agreement” was met with a lot of backlash on social media by immigration advocates.

NPR also reports that the $2.5 billion in funds for Trump’s border wall had initially been frozen by another lower court. Then the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to review the freeze leading the high court to grant funding. 

The majority of the justices representing the court, however, are more on the conservative side. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer dissented. They “would have kept in place an injunction blocking construction while the litigation went forward,” reports BuzzFeed News

The $2.5 billion in funding for a border wall marks a major win for Trump since this was one of his campaign promises.

After all, during his 2016 presidential campaign, he constantly expressed that he would have Mexico for pay for the wall. Former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto came forward when Trump began making those claims to say that Mexico, of course, would not pay for a border wall. Another former Mexican President, Vicente Fox, also had some strong words about Trump’s claims that Mexico would be funding construction for the wall. “I said, I’m not paying for that f*cking wall,” Fox said in a Comedy Central interview. 

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas ruled in favor of lifting U.S. District Court Judge Hawywood S. Gilliam, Jr. of Oakland’s injunction. Gilliam had blocked funds initially approved for military personnel and training to be allocated toward the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

According to BuzzFeed News, Justice Stephen Breyer didn’t support either side. He proposed a compromise instead.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also criticized the Supreme Court’s decision made on Friday. 

According to Vox, Pelosi said in a statement that: “The Supreme Court’s decision tonight to allow President Trump to defy the bipartisan will of the Congress and proceed with contracts to spend billions of dollars on his wall undermines the Constitution and the law.” 

People on Twitter also had some thoughts about the latest development in funding and where that money is coming from.

One user said that this might bode well for him in the 2020 presidential election.

The ACLU said in a statement to the New York Times that they will continue to ask the federal appeals court to “halt the irreversible and imminent damage from Trump’s border wall.” 

“Our Constitution’s separation of powers will be permanently harmed should Trump get away with pillaging military funds for a xenophobic border wall Congress denied,” Dror Ladin, an attorney with the ACLU, told the NYT

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Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

Entertainment

Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

The media advocacy group Define American recently released a study that focused on the way immigrant characters are depicted on television. The second-annual study is entitled “Change the Narrative, Change the World”.

Although the study reports progress in some areas of onscreen representation, there is still a long way to go.

For example, the study reported that half of the immigrant characters depicted on television are Latino, which is consistent with reality. What is not consistent with reality, however, is how crime-related storylines are still an overrepresented theme in these storylines.

The study shows that on television 22% of immigrant characters have crime storylines show up as part of their narratives. These types of storylines further pedal the false narrative that immigrants are criminals, when in reality, they’re just everyday people who are trying to lives their best lives. Ironically, this statistic is an improvement on the previous year’s statistics in which crime themes made up 34% of immigrants’ stories on TV.

These numbers are further proof that the media feels stories of Latino immigration have to be about sadness and hardship in order to be worth watching.

According to Define American’s website, their organization believes that “powerful storytelling is the catalyst that can reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.”

They believe that changing the narratives depicted in entertainment media can “reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.” 

“We wanted to determine if seeing the specific immigration storylines influenced [viewers’] attitudes, behavior, or knowledge in the real world,” said Sarah Lowe, the associate director of research and impact at Define American to Variety. “And we were reassured and inspired to see the impact it had.” 

Define American’s founder, Jose Antonio Vargas, is relatively optimistic about the study’s outcomes, saying that the report has “some promising findings” and the numbers “provide [him] with hope”. He added that there are still “many areas in which immigrant representation can improve”.

via Getty Images

Namely, Vargas was disappointed in television’s failure to take an intersectional approach to immigration in regards to undocumented Black immigrants. 

“Black undocumented immigrants are detained and deported at higher rates than other ethnic groups,” Vargas told Variety. “But their stories are largely left off-screen and left out of the larger narrative around immigration.” 

“Change the Narrative, Change the World” also showed that Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants are also under-represented on television compared with reality. Also worth noting, male immigrants were over-represented on television compared to reality, while immigrants with disabilities were also under-represented.

The study also showed that when viewers are exposed to TV storylines that humanize immigrants, they’re more likely to take action on immigration issues themselves. 

The effect that fictional entertainment narratives have on viewers further proves that representation does, indeed, matter. What we watch as entertainment changes the way we think about other people’s lived experiences. And that, in turn, can change the world.

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The Trump Administration Just Announced That They’re Banning TikTok Downloads Starting on Sunday

Things That Matter

The Trump Administration Just Announced That They’re Banning TikTok Downloads Starting on Sunday

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.

via Getty Images

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 and WeChat have both been recent targets of the Trump administration due to their data-collection practices.

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.”

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