52 Harms in 52 Weeks

How the Trump Administration Hurt Communities of Color in 2017

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52 Harms in 52 Weeks
Getty/Chip Somodevilla

Congressional Black Caucus Executive Committee member Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) sits in a meeting with President Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 22, 2017.

One year ago, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. During his victory speech, he promised to “bind the wounds of division” and pledged to every citizen that he would “be president for all Americans.” But over the past 52 weeks, the Trump administration has waged war on communities of color by threatening to take away almost every hard-won protection and opportunity for which many generations fought and sometimes died. Here are 52 ways Trump hurt communities of color in the first 52 weeks of his presidency.

Civil rights and courts

  1. The right to vote is the most fundamental right of democracy in the United States. But under the Trump administration, countless Americans of color are facing increased barriers to the voting booth. In 2017, Trump established a taxpayer-funded commission led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) and Vice President Mike Pence—both of whom are known proponents of strict voter ID requirements—to develop and advocate for policies to address the specter of voter fraud.
  1. The U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division is charged with protecting Americans from discrimination based on race, color, sex, disability, religion, familial status, and national origin. Now, President Trump is trying to undercut the division’s mission, by proposing to eliminate 121 of its staff positions.
  1. More than 90 percent of President Trump’s nominees for federal judgeships are white, despite the fact that by 2043, there will be no clear racial majority in the United States. His judicial nominees, many of whom used hateful rhetoric and supported voter suppression laws, undermine the idea of representative democracy—that government should look like the people it serves.
  1. President Trump asked Congress to cut funding from the Legal Services Corporation, a nonprofit that supports legal aid programs across the United States and whose client demographic is 4 percent African American and 17.9 percent Hispanic. 

Climate, environment, and public lands

  1. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Environmental Justice protects low-income communities and communities of color from environmental hazards such as toxic waste and air pollution. The Trump administration wants to eliminate the entire office, jeopardizing the health and safety of countless Americans.
  1. Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico, putting 3.4 million American lives at risk. In response, President Trump stated that Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them”; threatened to abandon the recovery effort; and cast doubt on long-term financial support.
  1. The Trump administration decided to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which was designed to reduce pollution and improve public health. This action directly affects people of color, since, according to the EPA, they are more likely to live near pollution-emitting power plants, making them more susceptible to dangerous health disorders such as asthma and cardiovascular disease.
  1. Despite widespread and sustained protests, the Trump administration approved the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a controversial project that puts the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe at risk.
  1. Only 1 in 5 National Park Service employees and visitors to U.S. national parks are Americans of color. However, the U.S. Department of Interior recently reversed an Obama-era strategic plan to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in its parks.
  1. The Bears Ears National Monument contains countless Native American ceremonial sites, historical artifacts and dwellings, and other cultural resources. The Trump administration has put this cultural area at risk of destruction and looting by shrinking the protected land by 85 percent to allow for commercial activities, including potential mining and oil and gas development. 

Criminal justice

  1. President Trump reversed an Obama-era executive order that placed commonsense training and supervision requirements on local law enforcement when they apply to obtain surplus weapons and equipment from federal agencies such as the U.S. departments of Defense and Justice.
  1. Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned so-called smart on crime approaches to criminal justice by directing prosecutors to pursue the harshest drug sentences possible, without consideration of an individual’s role in a drug conspiracy. This reversal will contribute to the overincarceration of African Americans, who remain more than twice as likely to be arrested for drug possession than whites.
  1. Attorney General Sessions directed the DOJ to re-examine existing “consent decrees,” which are court-supervised agreements made between DOJ and local governments to address systemic racism and abuse of power in their police departments, as well as build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. This move was immediately followed by an attempt to derail an agreement to overhaul Baltimore, Maryland’s, police department and signals an end to federal oversight of local law enforcement.
  1. Attorney General Sessions rolled back a DOJ program providing technical assistance to local law enforcement agencies that wanted to build trust with local communities. This voluntary program was popular among police chiefs nationwide, and its changes undermine public safety.
  1. Attorney General Sessions reversed a DOJ plan to reduce its use of private prisons, which profit from the war on drugs and house a greater share of people of color than public prisons.
  1. President Trump supports cutting an additional $21 million from tribal law enforcement, despite the fact that there is a lack of necessary resources to address high rates of rape and murder on tribal lands.
  1. President Trump issued an executive order establishing the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, headed by Attorney General Sessions, which will develop policies that further entangle local law enforcement with immigrant enforcement and could potentially reignite the war on drugs.
  1. President Trump pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, who was found guilty of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order to stop illegally profiling and detaining Latinos based on their perceived immigration status.

Economic opportunity

  1. President Trump signed a bill taking away the right for people to take financial companies to court, a step toward weakening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which protects individuals—especially people of color—from wealth-stripping financial products and fights against discrimination in the financial industry.
  1. The Trump administration wants to eliminate the U.S. Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), which provides business consulting services to people of color who wish to start or expand their own businesses. The MBDA is the only federal agency focused on the development and growth of minority-owned businesses.
  1. President Trump plans to merge the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which monitors discriminatory practices among government contractors, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which holds all employers accountable for discrimination. The merger would decrease their combined budget by millions, making it more difficult to review and prevent discrimination in the workplace.
  1. President Trump and Republicans in Congress passed a tax bill that slashes the corporate income tax and boosts earnings for wealthy shareholders but does little to help the economy. As two-thirds of African American families do not invest in the stock market, they would not stand to gain from this proposal. Only 30 percent of Latino households currently hold some form of a retirement account.
  1. In August, the Trump administration halted the implementation of the Obama-era Employer Information Report, or EEO-1 form, update, which would have confidentially collected pay data broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity. Pay data is critical to federal enforcement agencies in uncovering wage discrimination against women of color, who face some of the largest wage gaps across all industries.

Education

  1. President Trump asked Congress to eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which provides high-quality after-school programs to 1.1 million low-income students of color.
  1. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos advocates for a private school voucher system that would strip funding from public schools and could reinforce school segregation.
  1. The Education Department is reportedly considering scrapping Obama-era federal guidance designed to ensure school discipline policies do not discriminate against students of color and those with disabilities.
  1. The Education Department proposed eliminating 7 percent of the professional staff members working for its Office for Civil Rights, which would make it more difficult for the office to fulfill its mission of protecting against discrimination in schools and ensuring equal access to education.
  1. President Trump wants to freeze Pell Grant awards—which help nearly two-thirds of African American students and half of Latino students pay for college—at their current level of $5,920, as well as slash the program surplus by $3.9 billion. At the same time, the administration is also cutting the Federal Work-Study program in half and eliminating the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program, which helps students with exceptional financial need.
  1. Affirmative action plays a critical role in extending educational opportunities to all people of color. But the Trump administration is reportedly diverting DOJ Civil Rights Division resources to attack affirmative action efforts nationwide.
  1. Students of color are overrepresented in the for-profit college sector. But the Education Department halted the gainful employment rule and borrower defense rule, two Obama-era regulations that protected students and taxpayers from fraud on the part of for-profit colleges, putting more students, especially students of color at risk.
  1. Student debt is a growing problem. Close to half of African American borrowers have defaulted on a student loan, yet the Trump administration struck Obama-era requirements that would have ensured borrowers at risk of default receive better student loan servicing and get back on track to repayment.
  1. President Trump wants to slash the budget for the Bureau of Indian Education by $64 million—even though American Indian and Alaska Native people have lower high school graduation rates and are half as likely to obtain a college degree.
  1. President Trump pledged to “make HBCUs a priority in the White House,” but he supported a tax bill that could trigger dramatic cuts to programs that provide funding for historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges.

Hate crimes

  1. In response to white nationalists rampaging through Charlottesville, Virginia and ultimately murdering one counter protester, President Trump responded by defending the white nationalists and blamed “many sides” for the violence.
  1. Hate crimes are on the rise in the United States, but instead of building on the efforts of the previous administration to address the issue, President Trump rescinded a federal grant designed to help right-wing extremists move away from radical ideas.

Health care

  1. President Trump supported a health care repeal proposal, which would have left 8.7 million people of color without Medicaid coverage by 2026. That number includes 2.9 million African Americans; 4.7 million Hispanic people; and 1.2 million Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, Aleutians, Eskimos, and people of two or more races.
  1. President Trump supported a proposal to defund Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that nearly 1 million people of color rely on the organization for health services, such as physicals, cancer screenings, and contraceptive care.
  1. President Trump asked Congress to slash the budget and staff of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, which protects against discrimination in the health care industry.
  1. The Trump administration failed to secure a timely reauthorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This, in conjunction with his proposal to slash Medicaid funding, threatened programs that provide health coverage for 52 percent of Hispanic children, 56 percent of black children, and 25 percent of Asian children.
  1. Approximately 58 percent of African American women and 57 percent of Hispanic women between ages 15 and 44 currently use some form of birth control. But President Trump issued an executive order allowing employers to deny women their right to contraceptive care.
  1. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps 13.5 million families of color put food on the table, yet President Trump wants to slash this program by more than $193 billion over the next ten years. This would undermine a program essential to the health and well-being of 8 million African Americans, 7.7 million Hispanic Americans, 1.3 million Asian Americans, 560,000 Native Americans, and 431,000 people of two or more races.

Housing

  1. President Trump’s budget proposal would cut $6.2 billion from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which provides subsidized housing to more than 9 million people, including 4.2 million African Americans and 1.8 million Hispanic people.
  1. President Trump wants to slash $50 million from HUD’s Indian country housing programs and completely eliminate housing funding for the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. According to the National Congress of American Indians, 40 percent of on-reservation housing is substandard, compared with 6 percent outside of Indian country.

Immigration

  1. During his campaign, then-candidate Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of all Muslims traveling to the United States. Just seven days into his administration, he signed an executive order in an attempt to fulfill that goal and has since introduced two more iterations of the ban. Beaten back by federal courts on multiple occasions that have highlighted his anti-Muslim rhetoric, President Trump continues to pursue a Muslim ban that is morally wrong as well as dangerous to our nation’s safety.
  1. In the midst of the biggest global refugee crisis since World War II, President Trump slashed the target number of refugees to be welcomed into the United States to the lowest levels in decades, ceding America’s historical leadership in protecting those fleeing persecution.
  1. By ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, President Trump disrupted the lives of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, the vast majority of whom are Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, or black. Without a legislative solution, more than 10,000 young people already have lost protection and become vulnerable to detention and deportation.
  1. The Trump administration ended the protected status of 50,000 Haitian nationals who were displaced by the nation’s 2010 earthquake. Notwithstanding a series of devastating hurricanes, a food insecurity crisis, and an ongoing cholera epidemic, the administration now expects these longtime residents of the United States to leave voluntarily or face deportation to a country still struggling to recover.
  1. President Trump has encouraged aggressive immigration enforcement, a policy that many law enforcement leaders believe has caused a sharp decline in victims reporting sexual assault or domestic violence incidents in immigrant and Hispanic communities.
  1. During the campaign, Trump promised to focus on the deportation of what he called “bad hombres,” but because his policies treat virtually every undocumented immigrant in the country as a deportation priority, arrests of longtime residents and persons without criminal histories have increased dramatically.

Trump’s rhetoric

  1. President Trump attacked African American professional athletes for protesting systemic racism and bringing attention to police brutality, calling on team owners to fire them, as well as accusing them of being ungrateful for what the United States has given them. He further inflamed emotions when he joked that police officers should engage in police brutality by roughing up suspects upon arrest, a practice that has resulted in countless use of force cases.
  1. President Trump blatantly endorsed proponents of Islamophobia by promoting anti-Muslim videos on his Twitter account.
  1. President Trump mocked Native Americans at an event honoring the heroic Navajo code talkers by delivering a speech in front of a large portrait of Andrew Jackson—who was called “Indian killer”—and referred to a political opponent as “Pocahontas.”

Time and time again, the Trump administration supported efforts that hurt or undermine the health, safety, and prosperity of communities of color in the last 365 days. Despite these actions by the Trump administration, communities of color will forge ahead and continue to fight back against hate, bigotry, and regressive policies and politics.

Danyelle Solomon is the director for Progress 2050 at the Center for American Progress. Connor Maxwell is the research associate for Progress 2050 at the Center. The authors would like to thank Mackenzie Chakara, a former intern for Progress 2050.  

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