Things That Matter

Trump Administration Is Attempting To Violate State Laws By Requesting Driver’s License Information

There is growing concern about Trump administration’s latest efforts to collect citizenship data based on state driver’s license and ID records. After President Trump signed an executive order, it was announced back in July that the U.S. Census Bureau would be collecting five years’ worth of data, including driver’s license records, provided by state motor vehicle agencies with the agreement that the information would be kept confidential. These efforts have been stalled mostly due to the fact that states have either refused to supply the data or haven’t decided what to do yet. 

According to an AP survey of 50 states, as of now there are 13 states that have refused to share data, 17 are weighing options and another 17 have yet to receive a request. Three states didn’t respond to the AP poll. The states that have yet to respond are still researching the legal and privacy implications if they did comply with the data requests.  

What is the biggest concern for many states and activist groups is what the Trump administration will be doing with the gathered information and if it will be used to harm the political power of minorities.

These data efforts began shortly after the Supreme Court stopped the Trump administration’s lengthy battle to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census back in July.

Credit: @timelywriter / Twitter

The goal of these efforts is to supply information for the Trump administration to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. Yet there are questions about the reliability of using data mostly from state driver’s license records. Various civil rights organizations say using this information to base citizenship data off could result in inaccurate findings and could violate the rights of minorities and immigrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has already urged states to turn down the Census Bureau data requests. The organization says that these data requests are part of a plan to lessen the political power of minority groups when it comes to voting. By states being encouraged to use counts of citizens only as opposed to the total population, it can drastically change state and local electoral districts elections.

“This endeavor appears to be part of a scheme motivated by an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose to dilute the political power of communities of color. In addition, efforts to rely on citizenship data in DMV files have previously been highly unreliable due to poor database protocols and stale citizenship data,” Dale Ho, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a press release. “The Census Bureau should drop this latest distraction and instead focus on the important work of ensuring a full and accurate count.”

Civil rights groups have already taken legal action against the Trump administration to stop it from using government records to compile citizenship information. 

Credit: @democracynow / Twitter

Just last month, Latino community groups in Texas and Arizona filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration to stop it from using government records to compile citizenship information. The groups, represented by attorneys with the Mexican American Legal Defense (MALDEF) and the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), argue that basing citizenship data off of government records will only harm minority communities when it comes to using their political power.

“The Census Bureau usually plans for these types of big changes in their operations many, many years in advance, but they don’t have enough time right now to actually plan and provide clear information to the public about how they are going to use these administrative records,” Andrea Senteno, a lawyer for MALDEF, told the AP. “They know that many people who don’t respond are going to be communities of color.”

The data requests have also raised questions from both sides of the political aisle who are asking about privacy implications.

 Credit: @mherz67 / Twitter

The Census Bureau is already facing roadblocks from both Republican and Democratic states who have begun denying requests mainly due to state laws and privacy implications. 

In Utah, state officials said no the requests citing personal data can only be shared only for public safety reasons. Even in Arkansas, there has been no response to the requests as the state decides what to do.  “We are currently working to determine whether the requested information is eligible for release,” Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the Arkansas agency, said. 

It’s going to be interesting to see how other states respond or don’t respond at all to these data requests over the next few months. The Trump administration hopes to compile this information to release for state redistricting in 2021.

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Guatemala’s President Is Going To Have To Settle The Immigration Negotiation With Trump

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Guatemala’s President Is Going To Have To Settle The Immigration Negotiation With Trump

dr.giammattei / Instagram

Tuesday marked a new era of leadership in Guatemala as the Latin country swore in Alejandro Giammattei, a conservative doctor and former prison system director from the right-wing Vamos party. The 63-year-old won the presidency on his fourth attempt back in August with bold promises of changing a corrupt government and restoring the rule-of-law in city streets. 

“Today, we are putting a full stop on corrupt practices so they disappear from the face of this country,” Giammattei said at his swearing-in ceremony that had a five-hour delay.

His ceremony somewhat overshadowed by delays and protests against ex-President Jimmy Morales, who for four years dodged accusations of corruption. The scene of protestors throwing eggs and voicing anger at the outgoing administration was a reminder of the displeasure against the country’s deep-seated political corruption. It’s also a key reason why many are looking to Giammattei to bring change to the struggling country. 

As Giammattei takes office, there are questions on what his presidency will mean to Guatemala in the short and long term as issues over the future of an asylum deal with the United States comes into focus. 

One of the biggest issues confronting Guatemala and one that Giammattei will have to address early is the Asylum Cooperation Agreement (ACA) that was signed by Morales last July with the U.S. government. The agreement, which was highly opposed in Guatemala, lets U.S. immigration officials send Honduran and Salvadoran migrants that are requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border to apply for protection here instead. There is now increasing skepticism as reports say that the U.S. wants to expand the deal to include Mexican asylum seekers as well.

Last year, there were many Guatemalans that were part of a 3,000 migrant caravan that made its way up from Latin America to the U.S. The caravan consisted of people that were looking to claim asylum and became a symbol of the growing migration crisis at the southern border. President Trump frequently attacked the caravan and eventually threatened to impose tariffs on Guatemala if it didn’t agree to the asylum deal.

According to the Guatemalan Migration Institute, “as of Friday, 128 Salvadoran and Honduran asylum seekers had been sent as part of the agreement,” with only a limited number actually applying for asylum there and others returning home. Giammattei has previously said that he’s willing to make changes to the agreement but on Tuesday said he would revisit details later. 

The country, one of Latin America’s poorest nations, is a key part of President Trump’s plan to curb illegal immigration and asylum claims. mostly from those coming to the U.S. Southern border. The issue for many living in Guatemala is how to let those seeking asylum when itself has become a major source of U.S. bound migrants. 

Poverty levels have only grown in the last 20 years and income inequality levels continue to be a big problem in the country. 

One of the big platform issues that Giammattei ran his campaign on was helping the shorten income inequality gap and poverty levels that have only grown in the last 20 years. Fifty-nine percent of Guatemalan citizens live below the poverty line and almost 1 million children under the age of 5 are believed to live with chronic malnutrition, according to the AP. 

There is also the rampant problem of street violence and cartel gangs that have had a major effect on the daily lives of many in the country. Giammattei plans to address this with reforms that include designating “street gangs as terrorist groups.”

“This is the moment to rescue Guatemala from the absurd. It is the moment to combat corruption and malnutrition,” Giammattei said on Tuesday in his first address to the country as president. “There is no peace without security, I will present a law that aims to declare street gangs for what they are – terrorist groups.”

There is hope that Giammattei will turn a new page in Guatemala that will see change come to all in the country that has faced uncertainty for years. But only time will tell if this is indeed new leadership or business as usual.

“We will bring back the peace this country so dearly needs,” Giammattei said. “We will govern with decency, with honourability, and with ethical values.”

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American Latinos United Launches Committee To Take Down President Trump In 2020

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American Latinos United Launches Committee To Take Down President Trump In 2020

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Monday, American Latinos United (ALU) made the announcement that it would be forming a committee to create a new super PAC, “focused on defeating President Donald Trump by activating Latino voters in key battleground states.” As the 2020 election cycles draw closer and closer, political groups are already looking to key battleground states where Latino voters will play a key role in determining the next president. 

Backed by former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and entrepreneur Fernando Espuelas, the new committee will be targeting Latinos in six key battleground states: Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The ALU does not appear to be backing or supporting any specific Democratic candidate as of now. Instead, it will be placing emphasis on Latino voter engagement in these key states. 

This year will be a historic one for Latinos as for the first time ever, they will become the largest minority group of potential voters in the United States. The ALU wants to be sure that a majority of those eligible to vote actually do so. 

The 2020 election has a lot on the line besides just the presidential nomination. For Latinos, issues like healthcare, immigration, and the economy are some of the biggest factors they’ll be considering when heading to the ballot box this November. The ALU plans to energize Latino voters on these issues through specifically targeted technology, culturally appropriate messaging, and on-the-ground work to turn out voters. The committee will also have ads that will be played in English and Spanish across traditional media and digital platforms.

The ALU points to the 2016 election as an example of the importance of having Latinos come out and vote. The number of eligible voters of Latino background who did not cast a ballot in 2016 was overwhelmingly high, 14 million, considering the anti-Latino sentiment heard from Trump on the campaign trail. 

According to the Pew Research Center, over half of the 27 million eligible Hispanic voters stayed home. That may be credited to not only Trump but a lack of enthusiasm when it came to Hillary Clinton. This year hopes to be different as 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in 2020, compared with 30 million African-Americans.

“President Trump captured about 30 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2016. If he falls under that threshold in 2020, key battleground states will be out of his reach,” Espuelas said in a press release. “With the Electoral College in play, we intend to empower Latinos in battleground states to defeat Trump with their votes.”

The ALU called out President Trump and his administration for “incompetence and corruption.” It warns if voter turnout this year is anything like 2016, Trump will surely be re-elected. 

In advancing its message, the ALU hopes to also hope to connect with Latinos on single-issue voters that have previously not voted Democrat. In doing so, they will also educate voters on the “moral danger that Trump represents” and the consequences of reelection victory for his administration. 

 “Our country is on a precipice. President Trump’s incompetence and corruption are threatening our democracy and the American way of life,” Villaraigosa said. “Latino voters can make all the difference – if we know how to engage and activate the millions of people that sit out most elections. Through ALU, we’ll connect deeply with our community and create the mechanisms to turn out the vote in historic proportions.”

While most Latinos tend to vote Democratic, that shouldn’t make their vote an automatic given. Many Latinos have cast doubt over the party in recent years, some even pointing anger towards former President Obama who deported more than three million undocumented immigrants. 

The ALU wants to change the narrative on the 2020 election not being just about a party but about having your voice heard. The 2018 midterm elections saw some momentum when it came to the Latino vote as about 40.4 percent of eligible Latino voters came out to the polls, about 11.7 million voters in total, according to the Pew Research Center

“American Latinos United can stop him. We are everywhere. All across the country—around kitchen tables, in-office conference rooms, on busways and buses, in town halls— American Latinos are talking, planning, gathering force and strength,” the ALU website reads. “We have the power to stop Trump. And we can shine the unwavering light of truth on the corrupt Republican party that enables him.

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