Things That Matter

Trump Issued An Executive Order Allowing States To Refuse Refugees And It Might Be A Step Too Far Even For Republicans

The Trump administration has had a few tug-of-wars with city and state governments. The dimes y diretes in which POTUS and former Californian governor Jerry Brown are now legendary, for example. However, so far Trump’s administration has had a very smooth sailing with Republican incumbents, who even if they didn’t fully agree with POTUS, would follow directives from the White House.

However, a recent development has made some pundits believe that certain Republican governors have had enough and might be breaking ranks with the president when it comes to the highly contested issue of refugee migration policies. Whether this is an honest act of compassion or a political move in face of this years elections remains to be seen, but the fact is that Trump’s isn’t always the last word even in red states. 

So, Trump gave an executive order that allows local and state governments to block refugee resettlements.

Credit: @TheNation / Twitter

Yes, this is a continuation of the Trump administration’s harsh (and some argue, cruel) stance on migration issues. Detention centers, family separations, privately-run companies that are put in charge of the welfare of vulnerable populations… the list goes on and on. There has been wide criticism for the executive order and three refugee resettlement agencies have sued the Trump administration – the agencies are HIAS, a Jewish nonprofit, Church World Service and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.

But there are plenty of states that will continue to accept refugees, even some governed by Republicans.

Credit: Axios

This graphic, published in Axios, shows the states that have established that they will continue accepting refugees. These local and state governments are unwilling to block the resettlement of people who have escaped danger in their home countries and gone through the stringent and tortuous process of becoming a United States refugee, a status that is very, very hard to obtain.

Those who apply for this status are put under the microscope and have to undergo seemingly endless bureaucratic processes that guarantee that their claim is indeed valid under the law. This means that successful applicants were in the riskiest situations imaginable.

Just this week, the Republican governors of Tennessee, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Nebraska wrote letters to the State Department or stated loud and clear that they would continue to accept refugees. Some key states haven’t stated their decision yet and promise to be battlegrounds for opposing political views. Texas, for example, has a very conservative governor on Greg Abbott, but many of its cities, such as Austin, have more progressive majors. 

Refugee resettlement is often seen as a tool to obtain goodwill both domestically and internationally, and history has seen plenty of bipartisan efforts to guarantee it.

There is a push against this executive order. As The Washington Post reports, even conservative states like Utah want to continue receiving refugees and even increase their numbers. Governor Gary Herbert, who aligns with Donald Trump on most issues, wrote a letter to the president stating: “”We empathize deeply with individuals and groups who have been forced from their homes and we love giving them a new home and a new life”. He added that newcomers become “productive employees and responsible citizens”. 

Trump’s position is unprecedented: even Ronald Reagan was proud of the refugee resettlement program.

As The Washington Post also notes: “From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, every president in recent decades had sought to bolster the program, identifying it as a way to generate goodwill and prestige internationally while strengthening bonds in communities at home.”

Refugees are a key element of American multiculturalism. From the pilgrims in the Mayflower escaping religious persecution to migratory waves of Jewish, Italian and Polish refugees during and after World War II, the United States has been accomodating to those in despair. The recent move from Trump’s White House can lead us to believe that the executive order could potentially have ethnic or racial connotations given the Brown and Black background of those seeking a refugee status today. 

Trump has already cut the number of annual arrivals to 18,000, a record low.

Just picture this. In a rally he mentioned Somali refugees and the crows began to boo. He then said that he would order the executive decision, something that no other president would do. He got that right: no one else would do it. He seems to be catering for his core base, as the WP further reports: ” He has repeatedly attacked refugees, suggesting they may be a “Trojan horse” intent on violence or a Muslim takeover”. This is just not true and only echoes the sentiments and rhetoric of far-right politics 

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

Things That Matter

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

Unsplash

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”. 

Leaked Emails Show Stephen Miller Believed DREAMERs Would Replace White Americans

Things That Matter

Leaked Emails Show Stephen Miller Believed DREAMERs Would Replace White Americans

Win McNamee / Getty

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller is still in office, despite mounting proof that he harbors white supremacist’s beliefs and numerous politicians and activists calling for his resignation. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch” vertical published a series of Miller’s emails leaked by an ex-Breitbart news editor. 

In the emails, Miller expressed fear that DREAMERs would replace white Americans and suggested deporting immigrants on trains to scare them. SPLC’s Michael Hayden says Miller is a supporter of the “great replacement theory” championed by white supremacists who fear white people will become a racial minority. The theory has been echoed in the manifestos of mass shooters and prominent white supremacist leaders. 

Miller believes his fellow Republicans aren’t hard enough on immigrants. 

“Demanding DREAMers be given citizenship because they ‘know no other home.’ That principle is an endorsement of perpetual birthright citizenship for the foreign-born,” Miller wrote in an email.  “Not only will the U.S.-born children of future illegal immigrants and guest workers be made automatic U.S. citizens, but their foreign-born children will too because, as [former Republican House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor said, ‘Our country was founded on the principle.’”

Miller praised Florida’s very own former governor Jeb Bush for his use of moderate rhetoric to push extreme policies. The emails leaked are from around 2015, when Miller was an aide to Senator Jeff Sessions before being selected by Trump.

 “Jeb [Bush] has mastered the art of using immigration rhetoric to sound ‘moderate’ while pushing the most extremist policies,” Miller wrote in an email. 

Former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh provided over 900 emails to SPLC in which Miller expressed disdain for non-white immigrants. McHugh says she leaked the emails addressed to her from Miller to expose the hidden “evil” of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. 

“In a November 2015 email that Hatewatch has not previously published, Miller forwarded an interview with Phyllis Schlafly from far-right conspiracy website WorldNetDaily that argued undocumented immigrants should be shipped out on trains to ‘scare out the people who want to undo our country,’” according to SPLC. 

25 interfaith groups call for the resignation of Stephen Miller. 

Yesterday, 25 faith groups, among them many prominent Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders including the Anti-Defamation League, The Nation’s Mosque, and African American Ministers in Action, signed a letter calling for Miller’s resignation. 

“Stephen Miller authored many of these destructive policies and helped ensure their enactment via his network of anti-immigrant officials throughout the federal government. Further, these policies have been paired with heightened and unrelenting anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric coming from the White House,” the organizations said. 

The group also called out the Trump administration for allowing white supremacist views in the White House. 

“At one point in history, harboring a white supremacist in the White House could harm an administration. Today, President Trump appears unbothered by his close official’s ties to white supremacy. This cannot stand. As organizations of many faiths, who feel love and respect where Miller advances disdain and hate, we call for his resignation immediately,” the letter stated

Last November 100 lawmakers demanded Stephen Miller resign. 

Miller has been in the hot seat for a while. Last year 100 lawmakers demanded the advisor’s resignation, a couple of weeks ago 25 Jewish members of congress joined that call following Rolling Stone’spublication of a different set of leaked emails that further establish his support of xenophobic ideas. 

“A documented white nationalist has no place in any presidential administration, and especially not in such an influential position,” the 100 representatives wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump. “Miller’s white supremacist influence on your immigration policy, and it seems like that his perfidious adherence to extremist ideology has shaped your administration in ways that are not yet public.”

In the Rolling Stone emails, Miller called refugees “foreign-born terrorists” and expressed a fondness for a book called “Camp of Saints” which is a favorite of neo-Nazis.

“The dystopian 1973 novel is widely regarded as racist and traffics in fear-mongering about immigrant invasions. It is popular among white nationalist circles and has been invoked by former White House aide Steve Bannon and Iowa Congressman Steve King,” according to Newsweek

Other emails show Miller is using his influence in the White House to coordinate anti-immigration policies that reflect his views. 

“In the emails, [senior advisor at ICE Jon] Feere strategizes with Miller about how to use the federal government to amplify their anti-immigration message; tees up potential attacks on prominent Democratic politicians; directly briefs Miller in great detail about upcoming enforcement actions and policy changes in the works; and recommends to Miller people the administration should hire to expedite its immigration agenda,” according to Rolling Stone

While Miller has still not resigned, the pressure is continuing to mount in Congress and among activists.