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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Pretty Damning: Trump Paid $750 in Federal Income Tax — He Even Wrote-Off That Sad Comb Over

Things That Matter

Pretty Damning: Trump Paid $750 in Federal Income Tax — He Even Wrote-Off That Sad Comb Over


After four long years, we finally know why Trump didn’t want to release his tax returns: abominably, he thought his terrible haircuts and adult age children were worthy of write-offs. Oh yeah… and the year he was elected he only paid $750.00.

Long before his 2016 presidential election bid, Trump dodged calls to reveal his tax returns. At the time of his bid, however, he refused to take part in a 40-year tradition carried out by presidential nominees to release tax returns to the public. During his initial run, Trump falsely claimed that he was unable to release his returns publicly while they were under audit, and throughout his presidency, he has avoided sharing them despite grand jury subpoenas. Fortunately, thanks to a piece published by The New York Times, they’re finally getting a chance to see the light of day.

On Sunday, The New York Times published the first of several reports examining Trump’s tax information.

In 2016, Trump became the first president since 1976 to not release his tax records. The decision promptly roused dismay and questions about whether the records carried “undisclosed conflicts of interest that may impair his ability to make impartial policy decisions.”

According to NYT’s latest exposé, Trump (a man who has long boasted about his wealth and has also claimed a net worth of billions of which he has also declared to be self-acquired) paid a mere total of $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

While the Times report did not cover 2018 and 2019 tax filings, the newspaper looked into 18 years of Trump’s tax returns. They also looked into his business dealings as far back as 2000 and found that in 10 of those years, the president of the United States failed to pay any income taxes “largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.”

The Times also revealed that Trump “racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes” despite millions in income and property. In a statement for the piece, Alan Garten an attorney for the Trump Organization claimed to the Times that “most, if not all, of the facts, appear to be inaccurate.” NoteL the Times underlined that Garten appeared to be “conflating income taxes with other federal taxes.”

According to the article, beginning in 2010, Trump had been given a $72.9 million tax refund from the IRS.

The Times article explains in detail how Trump has managed to handle his business and categorize his wealth. The paper found that most often, Trump claimed his expenses as deductions from his tax bill chalking them up to business expenses. These include nearly $70,000 in hairstyling costs for his time on NBC’s “The Apprentice” over $300,000 for landscaping of the Mar-a-Lago Club and $95,000 written off for hair and makeup done for his daughter Ivanka. That’s right, the president wrote off his own adult children.

Addressing the report, the Times noted that they would not include the actual tax documents in its coverage to avoid outing its sources.

“We are publishing this report because we believe citizens should understand as much as possible about their leaders and representatives — their priorities, their experiences and also their finances,” Times editor Dean Baquet wrote in an editor’s note. “Every president since the mid-1970s has made his tax information public. The tradition ensures that an official with the power to shake markets and change policy does not seek to benefit financially from his actions.”

In response to the reports, Trump called the story “fake news” during a White House press conference on Sunday.

Speaking about the piece, Trump bemoaned that the IRS “does not treat me well.” “It’s totally fake news. Made-up, fake,” he continued. “We went through the same stories, people you could’ve asked me the same questions four years ago. I had to litigate this and talk about it. Totally fake news… Actually, I paid tax, and you’ll see that as soon as my tax returns — it’s under audit,” Trump went onto explain. “They’ve been under audit for a long time. The IRS does not treat me well. … They don’t treat me well; they treat me very badly. You have people in the IRS, they treat me very, very badly…But they’re under audit. And when they’re not, I would be proud to show you, but that’s just fake news.”

It’s important to note that even an audit could not prevent Trump from releasing his tax records to the public.

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


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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