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.

READ: This Latina Used Her Business Savvy to Launch An App That Helps Undocumented Students Find Financial Aid

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Google Is Pledging $250K To Help With DACA Applications And Renewals

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Google Is Pledging $250K To Help With DACA Applications And Renewals

SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP via Getty Images

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is not a contentious topic among Americans. The program offers young adults who entered the U.S. as children relief from deportation and a chance to live out of the shadows. Now that it has been reinstated, Google wants to help some people achieve the dream of being a DACA recipient.

Google is pledging a quarter of a million dollars to help people apply for DACA.

The Trump administration did everything in their power to end DACA. The constant uncertainty has left hundreds of thousands of young people in limbo. The war waged against Dreamers by the Trump administration came to a temporary end when a federal judge ruled that Chad Wolf was illegally installed as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. It invalidated a member from Wolf stating that no new DACA applications would be approved.

Kent Walker, the SVP of Global Affairs, laid out the case for DACA in an essay.

Walker discusses the uncertainty the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients currently face after the tumultuous time for the program. He also touches on the economic hardships that has befallen so many because of the pandemic. With so many people out of work, some Dreamers do not have the money to apply or renew their DACA due to a lack of financial resources. For that reason, Google is getting involved.

“We want to do our part, so Google.org is making a $250,000 grant to United We Dream to cover the DACA application fees of over 500 Dreamers,” writes Walker. “This grant builds on over $35 million in support that Google.org and Google employees have contributed over the years to support immigrants and refugees worldwide, including more than $1 million from Googlers and Google.org specifically supporting DACA and domestic immigration efforts through employee giving campaigns led by HOLA (Google’s Latino Employee Resource Group).”

People are celebrating Google for their decision but are calling on Congress to do more.

Congress will ultimately have to decide on what to do for the Dreamers. There has been growing pressure from both sides of the aisle calling on Congress to work towards granting them citizenship. DACA is a risk of being dismantled at any moment. It is up to Congress to come through and deliver a bill to fix the issue once and for all.

“We know this is only a temporary solution. We need legislation that not only protects Dreamers, but also delivers other much-needed reforms,” writes Walker. “We will support efforts by the new Congress and incoming Administration to pass comprehensive immigration reform that improves employment-based visa programs that enhance American competitiveness, gives greater assurance to immigrant workers and employers, and promotes better and more humane immigration processing and border security practices.”

READ: New DACA Applications Were Processed At The End Of 2020 For The First Time In Years

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What Is the 25th Amendment and What Does it Do?: A Primer

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What Is the 25th Amendment and What Does it Do?: A Primer

via Getty Images

So in case you missed it, some crazy stuff went down at the Capitol yesterday. A mob of far-right Trump supporters broke into the Capitol building in “protest” of Congress ratifying President Elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College votes.

The heinous episode shocked and rattled many Americans. After months of inflammatory rhetoric, President Trump effectively activated his base into violent and treasonous actions. And people are upset. 

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have since called for Trump’s resignation. But knowing President Trump, it isn’t likely that he’s going to do that.

Because of that, lawmakers have reportedly been having talks to discuss invoking the 25th Amendment.

The 25th Amendment has four sections that dictate what will happen in the event of an acting president being unable to carry out the duties of office. These events have usually amounted to…colonoscopies (no, really). But this time around, lawmakers are looking to the fourth section of the amendment to remove Trump from office. And this is where the wording gets super lawyer-y.

Section Four the 25th Amendment states:

“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

Translation: The Vice President, Trump’s cabinet, the Senate leader, and the Speaker of the House would all have to agree to ousting Trump.

It’s a little complicated, so let’s break it down. Vice President Pence and the majority (11 out of 23) of Trump’s cabinet would have to agree that he is unfit for office. Then, they must submit a written request to the “President pro Tempore” of the Senate (who is Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley) as well as the Speaker of the House (California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi).

But wait, that’s not all. As soon as this motion is enacted, President Trump would be able to contest that decision (which he most definitely would). In that case, VP Mike Pence, Senator Grassley, and Congresswoman Pelosi would have to re-draft another statement insisting that he is, indeed, unfit for office.

Then, two-thirds of both the Senate and the House of Representatives would have to agree with their decision.

Only then would Trump be permanently removed from the presidency.

So, yeah…a lot of steps. But there’s a good reason for that. If removing a president from office were easy, it would be done a lot more often and our democracy would be a lot shakier.

Remember relentlessly hearing about the “checks and balances” of our government in elementary school? This is what our teachers were talking about. A lot of different people in different parts of the government have to sign-off on hard decisions so we can all make sure every action is justified and reasonable.

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