While Florida is hunkering down in preparation for Hurricane Irma’s landfall, the Caribbean Islands are reeling in the wake of its devastation. (To donate to relief efforts after Irma, check out the Miami Herald’s list.) Less than a week after Hurricane Harvey inundated Texas and Louisiana, Irma – the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic – has left more than one million Puerto Ricans without power, flattened entire islands, and shows no signs of stopping. Although the mainland U.S. may yet avoid the “total carnage” seen on Barbuda and other islands in the region, Irma will still wreak havoc in Florida and other southern states, and Governor Rick Scott has urged more than one million Floridians to be prepared to evacuate.
For many residents, this isn’t as simple as it sounds. With gas prices and airfares skyrocketing, it can be economically impossible for some families to leave. In times of crisis such as this, the effects of poverty cannot be more clear or dangerous. Families struggling to meet ends meet and communities of color are more likely to live close to industrial facilities and toxic waste sites, and thus, are at a greater risk during storms if these plants are damaged.
Additionally, some residents are being forced to stay behind or risk losing their jobs. In Miami-Dade County, where the hurricane is projected to hit, 1.6 million residents don’t have sufficient savings to last more than three months without falling into poverty. Costly post-Irma damage to homes and small businesses poses a dangerous threat to families’ pocket books.
Extreme storms–like Harvey and Irma–are going to become more intense and frequent in the coming years, thanks to the effects of climate change. As temperatures rise, the surface waters of oceans warm. This causes faster evaporation of water, which is then dumped in heavier amounts as rainfall. One scientist estimates the “human contribution can be up to 30 percent or so of the total rainfall coming out of the storm.” Yet, many politicians, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, continue to deny the science and impacts of climate change. Whether or not they believe in climate change, it’s happening and its impacts are being felt today. Find out if your member of Congress is a climate denier here.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#HereToStay. A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in both chambers of Congress are ready to vote on a clean Dream Act. Many GOP members have expressed their support for dreamers. Now it’s time for them to back up words with action. Urge lawmakers to support the Dream Act without added provisions like border wall funding. Use our new toolkit to call and tweet at key members of Congress and tell them to support the #DreamAct and #DefendDreamers.
Travel Ban. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that Trump’s travel ban went too far in preventing extended family members and some refugees from coming to the U.S. The decision means that these individuals, including grandparents, which had previously been prevented from coming to this country, are now excluded from the ban. Neal Katyal, a lawyer arguing the case against the Trump administration, wrote on Twitter, “The court of appeals has just sided with Hawaii (and constitutional freedoms everywhere) against Trump.” Although the fight isn’t over against Trump’s ban, this is a big step in the right direction. #NoMuslimBanEver
Let Them Eat Cake. The Trump administration has joined sides with the anti-gay cake baker from Colorado who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In the brief filed last night, the Trump administration argues, “His personal contribution would reasonably be perceived as a signal that, at a minimum, he does not oppose the marriage.” In essence, they are arguing that discrimination is a form of a free speech and is denying people equal treatment under the law. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case this fall and a decision against equality could have impacts well beyond cakes and the LGBTQ community – it could put into jeopardy longstanding laws against discrimination across the country.
Child Care. Too many families lack access to quality, affordable child care that is crucial for early childhood development—and the ability for new parents to return to work. Average child care tuition exceeds $10,000 per year, putting it out-of-reach for so many. To increase access and ease the financial burden on families, the Center for American Progress and Make It Work have issued a new report with key recommendations. Read more about how child care can be accessible to all families here.
Title IX. Yesterday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced major upcoming changes to Title IX guidelines and enforcement. The majority of her nearly hour-long speech was spent talking about those who are falsely accused of rape. But, her emphasis on false reports is misplaced. What’s the reality? Only 2-8 percent of reported sexual assaults are false accusations. And only 5 percent of sexual assaults are reported at all. So instead of rolling back key guidance, it’s time for DeVos and the rest of the administration to take sexual assault seriously and continue the progress made under President Obama.