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”. 

President Trump Might Deny National Guard Benefits By Ending Deployment One Day Early

Things That Matter

President Trump Might Deny National Guard Benefits By Ending Deployment One Day Early

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One of the key elements of a response to a national crisis is the deployment of the National Guard. The servicemen and women have been working tirelessly since COVID-19 started to spread in the U.S. President Donald Trump, who touts his love of the military, delivered a saddening blow to the National Guard.

President Trump’s order deploying the National Guard to combat COVID-19 is set to expire on June 24.

Politico reported Tuesday that 40,000 National Guard virus workers will face a “hard stop” of services on June 24. The end comes after the guards spend 89 days working with the public to keep the nation safe during the deadly pandemic. Military families and advocates are not happy with the possible end to the mission of assisting states in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic after 89 days.

If troops are told to go home after 89 days, Pres. Trump will deprive them of deserved benefits.

Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, service members who serve 90 days of active duty are eligible for early retirement and educational benefits. The June 24 deadline means that the guards deployed in March will only spend 89 days on active duty. While the deadline looms and gets more attention, a National Guard spokesperson said that a decision on the deadline is yet to come.

Governors across the country are asking the Trump administration to extend the deadline to protect public health.

States like Texas are quickly reopening their economies and the result has been a noticeable increase in cases and the highest single-day death count for the state. States like New York and New Jersey are seeing their numbers fall after months of social distancing and self-isolation.

According to Politico, states are concerned that the Trump administration removing the troops from the states could lead to a second wave. Many of the state leaders are asking for the Trump administration to extend the deadline by months.

The National Guard is involved in the hard work of keeping communities safe and stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The soldiers have been disinfecting and cleaning nursing homes, building and working field hospitals to manage influxes, and providing testing to people. National Guards service members are eligible for retirement at 60 with a full pension is they serve for 20 years. For every 90 days, they can move up retirement by three months and are eligible for 40 percent off tuition with the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Critics argue that the Trump administration intentionally set the deadline for 89 days to prevent the soldiers to collect the benefits owed to them.

“It seemed kind of weird to me,” retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, president of the National Guard Association, told Politico. “It’s a Wednesday. And it also coincides with 89 days of deployment for any soldiers who went on federal status at the beginning. I was getting all kind of calls about it and I said, ‘It’s probably just a coincidence.’ But in the back of my mind, I know better. They’re screwing the National Guard members out of the status they should have.”

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A Pregnant Woman With Parking Violations Was Arrested And Put In Jail During The Coronavirus Pandemic

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A Pregnant Woman With Parking Violations Was Arrested And Put In Jail During The Coronavirus Pandemic

My job in Corrections / Pinterest

Diamond Davis is a Montgomery, AL-based woman who is pregnant and currently dealing with criminal charges.

On April 19, the pregnant mother-to-be was arrested and detained overnight in a prison currently battling coronavirus cases. Davis had been brought to the prison after police officers had arrested her for failing to show up for court hearings about her traffic-related violations. There were other similar charges that led to her arrest and jail detainment which a judge dismissed her from, via teleconference, after assigning her a new court date which will open up a new discussion on how she will repay the fines she owes.

While traffic-related violations are important to pay attention to, Davis’s arrest and time in prison is raising concerns among advocates calling for a chance in the climb in numbers of pregnant women “who have been put at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 because of non-violent charges by a prison system being accused of not doing enough to protect those it incarcerates,” according to Refinery29.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Davis’ case was highlighted as part of a vicious cycle targeting the disadvantaged.

According to The New York Times, Davis’ car was pulled over when police noticed that her temporary license plates had expired. After the officers stopped her they found that the 27-year-old mother-to-be was driving without a license and without car insurance. They also discovered that she had overdue court fines.

David was taken to Montgomery City Jail and told NYT that her request for a mask and gloves had been denied. She also claims that there was no hot water available for her to wash her hands.

What’s worse, one of the two women she had been made to share a cell with was coughing.

Soon after Davis’s release from the Montgomery City Jail, police reported five positive coronavirus cases.

While the cases were reported amongst the jail’s federal incarcerated community, which is reportedly kept in a separate area from people incarcerated by the city– like Davis– five cases were also reported among the jail’s nurses and correctional officers. According to NYT, “The number of positive cases has since risen to 21, Michael Briddell, the director of public information for Montgomery, said Wednesday.”

Michael Briddell, the director of public information for Montgomery, explained in an interview with NYT that early on in the pandemic, “the city took steps to release nearly all nonviolent offenders, adding that the jail held 93 detainees in the last week of April, compared with 115 detainees during the same period a year ago.” According to Briddel “only the most extreme nonviolent cases are being held,” and Davis fell under this category because she had 16 outstanding warrants.

Meanwhile, Claudia Wilner, who is the director of litigation for the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, which fights for economic justice for low-income people, “overpolicing of black communities had led to the constant issuing of tickets for traffic violations.” The underlying implication? Injustices in our criminal system are bringing people into places where they could potentially face death. Is it worth it?