Things That Matter

Trump Is Dismantling Obama-Era Rules Prohibiting Discrimination In Federal Housing Policy

There have been a few constants in Donald Trump’s administration that will always be remembered with fear and an uncanny feeling of uneasiness by Latino communities and by immigrants in general. The travel ban imposed on citizens from countries of Muslim majority, the constant raids that ICE has been involved in, family separations at the border, the famous Wall, the pressure that the White House has put on Mexico to stop Central American migrant caravans at the Guatemala-Mexico border… the list is painfully long.

Another constant regarding immigration and the Trump years is POTUS’ seemingly unmovable desire to reverse Barack Obama’s major changes to immigrant rights. Well now, a mere few months from the 2020 presidential campaign, the Trump administration is taking a step that will make Brown and Black populations feel even more vulnerable. 

Trump intends to reverse Barack Obama’s anti-discrimination housing rules.

Credit: Unsplash

This would be a terrible blow for diversity. Obama’s rules blocked banks from denying loans based on race or ethnicity, and cities from segregating people experiencing financial hardship. 

But what are the changes being made by the Trump administration exactly?

Credit: Don Freidberg / Flickr

The changes are being spearheaded by Ben Carson, Housing Secretary and former presidential hopeful. As Politico reports, Carson is “ moving to scrap an Obama policy withholding federal funds from cities if they don’t address segregation”. Politico also emphasized that, additionally, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “has proposed cutting back on collecting data that helps track discrimination in the mortgage market.”

This basically means that speculators and city planners would have free reign on how neighbourhoods are laid out in terms of racial, financial and cultural background. Investors can benefit projects that cater for outsiders instead of local populations, further contributing to gentrification. Carson has said that Obama’s strengthening of the Fair Housing Law ended up “actually suffocating investment in some of our most distressed neighborhoods.”

The problem is the nature of said investment and whether it forces underprivileged communities out due to escalating prices in real estate, rent and basic commodities. Shaun Donovan, who worked on the Obama administration’s approach to housing, wrote in a New York Times editorial that“housing plays a key role in advancing economic opportunity and closing the wealth gap between people of color and white Americans. African-Americans and Latinos have less than one-tenth and one-eighth, respectively, of the household wealth of white Americans, and homeownership remains the largest source of wealth-building for most families”. Taking this into account, it is fair to say that any changes to how discrimination of prevented will have a considerable impact on the true inclusion of Black and Brown communities and individuals in the American economy. 

Trump officials say these measures are an intention to cut red tape, but they could spell doom for diversity.

Credit: The Bronx Beat

The administration argues that these changes are meant to facilitate a swifter process for developers and for cities, who would be able to bypass obstacles for construction projects. But these obstacles are there for a reason! And this reason is diversity. Democrats and activists are getting up in arms. Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, has said: “They’re trying to eliminate the ability to enforce fair housing. They do not want to promote fair housing. They do not want to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination.”

Historically, U.S. cities have been ghettoized and during the Obama administration some of the policies that allowed this system to be perpetuated were given a second look, and in some cases reversed. 

Changes to Fair Housing Laws could spell even lower levels of homeownership among minorities.

Credit: Pixabay

Activists say that the Trump Administration is ignoring the fact that there is discimination in real estate and housing, and that pretending that race has nothing to do with this is dangerous and irresponsible. And the levels of home ownership among historically vulnerable communities is presenting a downhill trend. As Politico reports:“The white rate [of home ownership] is about 73 percent, compared with a little under 43 percent among black people.”

Legal experts think that the changes proposed by Trump and Carson are undermining the capacity of minorities to actually be able to afford places in their own neighborhoods. Thomas Silverstein of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law,Y told Politico: “I think there’s an effort by this administration to narrow the scope and the sort of meaning of civil rights protections so there’s just a hollowed-out husk of what’s actually protected”. 

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

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

Sandy Huffaker / AFP / Getty Images

Update January 7, 2021

The lives of hundreds of thousands of young people in the U.S. were thrown into jeopardy in September 2017. That was when Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was originally halted by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Three years later, new applications are finally being processed.

More than 170 new DACA applications were approved at the end of 2020.

A report given to a federal court in Brooklyn shows that the Department of Homeland Security approved 171 new DACA applications. About 500 applications have been denied or rejected while more than 2,700 applications were submitted.

In June 2020, a federal judge ruled that President Trump wrongfully ended the DACA program in 2017. However, the then-acting head of the Department of Homeland Security stated that the department would not accept new applications. Furthermore, Chad Wolf’s memo stated that renewals would be made for one year instead of two years.

In November, a federal judge ruled that Wolf was illegally appointed to his position as acting head of DHS. The Trump administration didn’t challenge the ruling and it immediately invalidated Wolf’s memo. DHS was notified that they had to public post that new applications will be accepted.

If you want to submit a new DACA application or if yours lapsed during the uncertainty, click here for resources.

Original: In a major victory for the community, a federal judge has ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was created by President Barack Obama in 2012, must be completely reinstated and open to new applicants starting today.

However, this case could still end up before the Supreme Court (which now has three conservative Trump appointees) making its future uncertain. This is why congressional action is so critical in protecting our friends, family, and neighbors from the whims of ever-chasing political landscapes.

DACA gets another lifeline as federal judge orders Trump to restart the program in full.

On Friday, a federal judge handed immigrants and their families a major victory with a ruling on DACA. Judge Nicholas Garaufis said in his ruling, that the terms of the federal program must be immediately restored to what they were “prior to the attempted rescission of September 2017” when the White House began a series of maneuvers to dismantle the program. 

The case is Batalla Vidal v. Wolf, and largely hinges on the argument that Chad Wolf – the DHS official who issued the memo ending the program – wasn’t acting within his legal authority to do so.

In his order, Garaufis said that DHS must “post a public notice, within 3 calendar days of this Order … that it is accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA.” Which means that unless a higher court blocks his order, DHS must begin accepting new applications for as soon as today. 

Garaufis also ordered the government to produce a status report on the DACA program to him by Jan. 4, and said it must include the number of first-time DACA applications it’s received, adjudicated, approved, denied and rejected from Nov. 14 to Dec. 31 of this year.

Eligible migrants will be able to apply for DACA protection immediately.

DACA currently protects about 640,000 undocumented young immigrants. As of July, an estimated 300,000 young people living in the U.S. are eligible for the program and still waiting for a chance to apply. That includes 55,000 who have aged into eligibility over the last three years.

So the good news for DACA-eligible immigrants is that, barring a decision from a higher court blocking Garaufis’s most recent order, those immigrants will soon be able to obtain DACA status. And even if the order is blocked, President-elect Joe Biden has also pledged to fully reinstate DACA once he takes office on January 20.

The judge also instructed officials to reinstate two-year permits for qualifying applicants. Over the summer, the administration had begun issuing one-year permits. 

This ruling is the latest blow to the administration’s attempts to undermine the Obama-era program.

Credit: Sandy Huffaker / AFP / Getty Images

Since taking office in 2017, the Trump administration has repeatedly tried to completely dismantle the DACA program. However, they’ve also faced serious pushback on the legal front in their attempts to do so.

In 2017, Trump’s DHS issued a memo that sought to wind down the DACA program, but the Supreme Court ruled last June that DHS’s initial attempts to end it were void because the department did not adequately explain why it was doing so.

Nevertheless, the future of DACA remains uncertain. For one thing, the Supreme Court’s June decision blocking the Trump administration’s initial attempts to end the program was a  5-4 decision, with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the majority. Since then, Trump has replaced Ginsburg with the far more conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett. And even before Barrett arrived at the Supreme Court, several members of the Court had signaled that they thought DACA is illegal.

So there’s a reasonable likelihood that the Court’s new 6-3 Republican majority will strike down the DACA program even as Biden tries to preserve it.

Although a major win, the ruling could also have major consequences for Biden’s presidency.

Although a major win for the immigrant community, Garaufis’s ruling could have serious consequences for Biden’s presidency. In his opinion, Garaufis is basically placing limits on the authority presidents have to make acting appointments. And if the Senate remains under Republican control, they will essentially have the power to block any Biden nominee.

All of this boils down to the upcoming Georgia senate races. If Republicans win in either race, then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will continue to lead the Senate, and Republicans will have the power to block any Biden nominee to any Senate-confirmed job.

That’s why the January run off races in Georgia are bigger than just Georgia. They will help shape everything from the country’s COVID-19 response and foreign policy to how Biden fixes years of attacks on the nation’s immigrant community.

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Supreme Court Won’t Rule On Trump’s Case To Remove Undocumented People From The 2020 Census

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Supreme Court Won’t Rule On Trump’s Case To Remove Undocumented People From The 2020 Census

Patrick Semansky / Getty Images

Update December 17, 2020

The United States Supreme Court refused to rule on President Donald Trump’s attempt to have undocumented people removed from the 2020 census. The decision is another in a long line of losses for the Trump administration

The Trump administration lost their bid to have undocumented people kicked off the census count.

For months, organizations did everything they could to get everyone counted in the census. The Trump administration launched several attacks on the census to keep undocumented people from filling out their census. The Trump administration attempted to first include a citizenship question on the census and lost that battle because the Constitution has no stipulation on citizenship to participate in the census.

Another tactic by the Trump administration was to get the Supreme Court to allow them to stop the count early. The ongoing pandemic served as a reason by the court to end the count early to the dismay of immigrant activists. Door-to-door counting was stopped in the spring because of Covid-19.

President Trump’s last attempt to alter the census in the Republican Party’s favor was to have the Supreme Court exclude undocumented respondents. However, the Census Bureau said that there was not enough time to find the people and exclude them before the numbers were due to Congress. The administration was handed this loss around the same time that President Trump lost his attempts to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Original: The drama over the 2020 Census just won’t stop. It seems that we’re caught up in a never-ending (though all important) saga over the results from this year’s census count – one that could have a major impact on everything from congressional representation to federal funding.

The Trump Administration, in its conintued assault on the migrant community, has asked the Supreme Court for permission to exclude all undocumented residents from being counted – even though that has never happened in the country’s 244 year history.

During this week’s arguments over the case, the court’s justices all seemed to cast doubt on Trump’s plan but not necessarily for the same reasons. Though some immigration advocated worry that the Supreme Court is still set to grant the outgoing Donald Trump a lame duck victory that could cause major headaches for a President Biden.

The Supreme Court seemed skeptical of Trump’s plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from census.

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments over Trump’s plan to exclude undocumented residents from the census count. But during an audio-only oral argument session that stretched to more than an hour and a half, there appeared to be few, if any, takers on the high court for Trump’s effort to leave all unlawful immigrants out of the critical count.

Even many of the court’s most conservative justices – including those Trump named to the court – seemed highly skeptical of the constitutionality of the president’s move, but they also expressed misgivings about ruling on that issue now when thorny questions about smaller groups of undocumented migrants could be just weeks away.

The court’s conservatives, who hold a 6-3 majority, signaled such a ruling might be premature based on the administration’s admission that it does not yet know how or if it will be able to implement the proposal.

Several of the justices seemed to imply that rushing a decision through would be a major mistake.

Even Trump’s own Census Bureau admitted that it has no idea yet how many people would be excluded or when it will have the answer. The justices appeared to be reluctant to act immediately to block the plan based on that admission alone.

“Career experts at the Census Bureau confirmed with me that they still don’t know even roughly how many illegal aliens they will be able to identify, let alone how their number and geographic concentration may affect apportionment,” said acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, the government’s chief lawyer.

Near the outset of Monday’s session, Chief Justice John Roberts seemed to be urging some delay, despite the fact that the court urgently accelerated arguments in the case at the request of the Trump administration.

“What is the problem with post-apportionment litigation?” Roberts asked. “We don’t know what the secretary is going to do. We don’t know what the president is going to do. We don’t know how many aliens will be excluded. We don’t know what the effect of that will be on apportionment. All these questions would be resolved if we wait until the apportionment takes place.”

Much of the argument session turned on technical procedural questions about whether the suit is premature, since the Census Bureau hasn’t yet provided Trump with its report. Some justices also speculated that the number of foreigners the Census Bureau ultimately identifies as potentially subject to exclusion could wind up being so small that it wouldn’t have much impact on the apportionment of House seats among the states.

“I find the posture of this case quite frustrating,” Justice Samuel Alito said. “It could be we are dealing with a possibility that is quite important. It could be that this is much ado about very little.”

A ruling in Trump’s favor on this case would have serious implications for Democratic-leaning states.

Lawyers for the states that oppose the plan and groups affected by it told the justices that it would shift money and political power away from states with large immigrant populations and that it would violate the Constitution and federal law.

The Constitution requires a census every 10 years, and the results determine how many members of Congress each state gets in the House of Representatives. The data are also used to calculate local governments’ share of $1.5 trillion under many federal programs.

California, Florida and Texas would each lose one seat in the House, and Alabama, Minnesota and Ohio would each keep a seat they would otherwise lose to population shifts, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center. Other predictions show Arizona losing a seat, too, and Montana gaining one.

The states would lose equal numbers of Electoral College votes, which are based on the size of their House delegations.

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