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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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Undocumented Residents Could Be Excluded From The 2020 Census After All, Thanks To New Supreme Court Case

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Undocumented Residents Could Be Excluded From The 2020 Census After All, Thanks To New Supreme Court Case

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The drama over the 2020 Census continues.

First, was a Supreme Court decision that found the Trump administration wasn’t being totally honest about it’s reasoning for including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census – so the court effectively removed the question from the census. 

Then, Trump tried to delay the constitutionally mandated census to give his administration more time to come up with a better reason to tell the courts.

None of that worked as planned by the administration, and the Census has continued as normal. However, so many in minority communities – particularly migrant communities – have been fearful of completing this year’s census. Well, a new Supreme Court case could erase all the progress we made to make sure all residents – regardless of immigration status – were fairly counted.

The Supreme Court will hear a case that could allow the Trump Administration to exclude undocumented residents from Census data.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments next month over whether President Trump can exclude undocumented immigrants from the census count used to apportion congressional districts to the 50 states.

The court’s announcement means that the court – which could soon have a 6-3 conservative majority – will hear arguments in the case on November 30.

In July, Trump issued a memorandum asking the Census Bureau to subtract undocumented immigrants from the count for the purposes of congressional apportionment — the reallocation of the nation’s 435 House districts every 10 years. Trump’s memo came after the Supreme Court had rejected his last minute efforts to add a citizenship question to the census.

By the time the high court hears this case, federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett could be confirmed as the ninth justice, cementing a conservative majority. Senate Republicans hope to confirm her nomination to the Supreme Court before the election on Nov. 3.

However, the U.S. Constitution explicitly calls for the counting of all residents within the country.

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The 14th Amendment requires districts to apportion congressional seats based on “counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.”

Since the first U.S. census in 1790, the numbers of U.S. residents who are counted to determine each state’s share of congressional seats have included both citizens and noncitizens, regardless of immigration status.

“President Trump has repeatedly tried — and failed — to weaponize the census for his attacks on immigrant communities. The Supreme Court rejected his attempt last year and should do so again,” said Dale Ho, a lead plaintiffs’ attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who successfully argued against the now-blocked citizenship question the administration wanted on the 2020 census forms.

Removing those immigrants from the population counts would shift power to less diverse states. A Pew Research Center study last year found that it could result in House seats that would otherwise be assigned to California, Florida and Texas going instead to Alabama, Minnesota and Ohio — each of which is set to possibly lose a House seat in the next decade due to population shifts.

And drawing new districts within the states based only on the counts of citizens and legal immigrants would likely benefit Republicans, shifting power from cities and immigrant communities to rural parts of the states, which vote for GOP candidates at higher rates

The announcement comes shortly after the court also allowed the Trump Administration to end the Census count early.

Earlier last week, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to stop the census count, blocking lower court orders that directed the count to continue through the end of the month. 

The decision, which the Trump administration favored, came with a candid dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor – the court’s only Latina justice.

“Meeting the deadline at the expense of the accuracy of the census is not a cost worth paying,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “Especially when the Government has failed to show why it could not bear the lesser cost of expending more resources to meet the deadline or continuing its prior efforts to seek an extension from Congress. This Court normally does not grant extraordinary relief on such a painfully disproportionate balance of harms.”

But it wasn’t long ago that Trump tried to completely derail this year’s census.

The Trump administration has decided to print the 2020 census forms without a citizenship question, and the printer has been told to start the printing process, Justice Department spokesperson Kelly Laco confirms to NPR.

The move came shortly after the Supreme Court ruled to keep the question off census forms for now and just a day after printing was scheduled to begin for 1.5 billion paper forms, letters, and other mailings.

President Trump had said he wanted to delay the constitutionally mandated headcount to give the Supreme Court a chance to issue a more “decisive” ruling on whether the administration could add the question, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” A majority of the justices found that the administration’s use of the Voting Rights Act to justify the question “seems to have been contrived.”

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ICE Launches Billboards With Images Of Undocumented Migrants In An Unprecedented Attack On The Community

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ICE Launches Billboards With Images Of Undocumented Migrants In An Unprecedented Attack On The Community

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In what many say is an unprecedented move, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Friday it is launching a billboard campaign in Pennsylvania highlighting immigrants who have been labeled “at-large immigration violators.”

The billboard campaign is taking place in one of the nation’s most hotly contested swing states, just weeks out from the 2020 presidential election. And ICE says they’re want to highlight immigrants who were released by local law enforcement under so-called sanctuary policies who ICE says, “may pose a public safety threat.”

The agency has launched the billboard campaign as a boost to Trump’s “law & order” campaign, despite evidence showing that so-called sanctuary policies often have a positive impact on crime rates.

ICE has plastered immigration billboards across Pennsylvania.

In its continued attacks on the immigrant community in the country, the Trump administration has launched a billboard campaign across Pennsylvania that highlights immigration violators. ICE announced that it had placed several “WANTED” billboards across the state depicting immigrants recently arrested by local authorities in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Experts are calling this an unprecedented move taken in a swing state a month before the November election.

The immigrants, who ICE said were not authorized to be in the U.S., were released after being charged — but not convicted — with crimes ranging from public intoxication and disorderly conduct, to robbery and aggravated assault. The billboards don’t attach a name to the mugshot but include charges like assault. A phone number for an ICE hotline is also listed.

According to John Sandweg, former acting ICE director, in an interview with CNN, billboards singling out immigration violators raise questions about what purpose they serve. “How are they getting funding for it? How does that advance their mission?” he said. “Running billboards, it’s political messaging.”Hotlines to solicit tips or campaigns to recruit personnel are common, Sandweg noted, but those are more clearly linked to helping to advance the agency’s enforcement mission.

The move is meant to target sanctuary cities and to bolster Trump’s campaign message of ‘law & order.’

The billboard campaign is part of a larger strategy meant to target the policies of so-called “sanctuary cities,” which limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. Trump has repeatedly gone after these jurisdictions, arguing that they put public safety at risk, despite several studies that contradict his claims.

“Too often sanctuary policies limiting cooperation with ICE result in significant public safety concerns,” said Tony Pham, the senior official performing the duties of the ICE director. “ICE will continue to enforce immigration laws set forth by Congress through the efforts of the men and women of ICE to remove criminal aliens and making our communities safer.”

Many of the largest cities in the country have sanctuary policies in place. The leaders behind them argue that such policies make communities safer because undocumented immigrants are more likely to report crimes  if they don’t fear deportation.

Several ex-officials have come out against the move, calling it “wildly inappropriate.”

As many experts call the billboard campaign an unprecedented move, several former U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have criticized the Trump administration for erecting the billboards. They say that the public messaging campaign exacerbates concerns about the politicization of immigration enforcement.

“The placement and the timing — the placement being Pennsylvania and the timing being a month before the election — make it clear that this is a political move, not related to operational matters,” David Lapan, a retired U.S. Marine colonel and former DHS press secretary during the Trump administration, told CBS News. “We’re almost four years into the administration. Why wasn’t this done sooner if that was something they thought was important?”

John Sandweg, who led ICE on an acting basis during the Obama administration, said he doesn’t believe the agency “has ever done anything” like the billboards. “It’s a political advertisement in favor of the president or at a minimum, against politicians that they disagree with. And that’s just wildly inappropriate,” Sandweg told CBS News.

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