Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chief, Kirstjen Nielsen. Much of the hearing was spent clarifying Trump’s comments in the now-infamous meeting, where he reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as “shithole” countries. Nielsen was present at the meeting, but said she did not hear the word used or, at least, does not recall it. Senator Cory Booker gave an impassioned speech, telling Nielsen, “Your silence and amnesia is complicity.”
The hearing came the same day as DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a report, with the alarming title, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” This type of fear-mongering is hardly productive and simply reinforces the scare tactics used by the Trump administration to pass cruel, racist, and Islamophobic immigration policies. More importantly, the shocking headline tweeted by the DOJ is misleading, to say the least. The report does not include any domestic terrorism events, and it has huge gaps in data, such as specifics about the charges the immigrants faced. And, it defines immigrants as including “people extradited to the United States for trial.”
This fear mongering by the DHS and DOJ, Trump’s racist comments, and his administration’s circling of the wagons to protect him are all evidence of an administration that wastes no opportunity to attack communities of color. Even though there are now bipartisan proposals to pass permanent protection for Dreamers in both the Senate and the House, and even after President Trump himself said that he would sign any bipartisan bill sent to him, the Trump administration continues to negotiate in bad faith and reject any possible deal. As the government hurtles towards a shutdown of President Trump’s own making, this racist, xenophobic rhetoric must cease. There is a deal to be had, and clear momentum in both chambers of Congress. There is no reason why Congress cannot pass the Dream Act before the government shuts down on Friday.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#HandsOff Our Medicaid. Last week, the Trump administration ended Medicaid as we know it, allowing states to enact work requirements as part of their Medicaid programs. The majority of Medicaid recipients who aren’t working are either ill or disabled, caring for a loved one, or going to school. This decision has put 6.3 million Americans’ health insurance at risk, and it kicks struggling workers while they’re down. It’s the latest in his attacks on crucial benefit programs—so take action today! Add your name to our petition urging the Trump administration to reverse their decision and keep their #HandsOff our Medicaid.
An Unpopular Shutdown. New polling conducted in 12 key battleground Senate districts shows that Trump’s messaging on the looming government shutdown may backfire, as voters lean towards blaming Trump for a shutdown. The majority of those polled also expressed opposition to the border wall proposed by Trump, and they strongly support including protections for Dreamers in the spending bill. As Trump continues to refuse to even consider bipartisan, common sense solutions to immigration reform, the government creeps closer to a shutdown that would devastating for the economy and crucial services on which Americans rely. The poll shows once and for all: it’s time for Trump to stop playing with fire and do what’s right for Dreamers and for the country.
National Park Advisers Quit in Protest. Nine of the 12 members of the National Parks System Advisory Board have abruptly quit due to “inexcusable” treatment from the Administration. The group, whose mission is to advise the Interior Secretary on managing the national parks, say the administration has ignored science and that Secretary Zinke has refused to meet with them. Members of this mass exodus say they are concerned of about the mission of our National Parks under Trump and Zinke, who still have yet to nominate a Director of the National Parks Service. This latest move “leaves the federal government without a functioning body to designate national historic or natural landmarks.”
A Sign of Unity, or Short-Lived PR? For the first time in over a decade, North and South Korea have agreed to march under the Korean Unification flag in the upcoming Winter Olympics. This follows North Korea’s decision to send athletes and a cheering squad to the games, which has reassured other attendees that Kim Jung Un will hold his fire throughout the festivities. It is not at all clear that North Korea’s Olympic diplomacy will continue beyond then, however. Reports indicate the United States and its allies consider these move to be distractions given that North Korea is still pursuing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles designed to deliver nukes to the continental United States. Moving forward, the U.S. must be smart in its approach to North Korea. Sending tweets about “little rocket man” puts millions of lives at risk.
UNDER THE RADAR
Inequities in School Discipline. Today, the Center for American Progress released two reports on the state of discipline in the U.S.’s public school system. The first report addresses the wide racial disparities in school discipline, finding that white students compose 15 percent of NYC’s public schools, yet “only account for 8 percent of the days lost due to suspensions.” In contrast, African American students make up 27 percent of NYC’s school district, but “account for almost half—47 percent—of the days lost due to suspensions.” The second report examines the trend in the U.S. of suspending preschool children who have disabilities, which is neither effective nor productive to the children’s well-being.