Since Trump’s inauguration on Friday, he hasn’t wasted much time eliminating environmental safeguards, wreaking havoc on immigration enforcement, and stripping governmental transparency. So, I thought it might be useful to keep a list of what he has done so far and what we can do about it.
Before I start, I wanted to offer a bright note on Trump’s executive orders thus far: they certainly have the potential to be devastating, but they seem more like symbolic gestures than any real attempt at broad-based change. Reports from inside the administration, for example, indicate that Trump has done little to consult with agencies or lawmakers before signing the orders. This has many people unsure of their lawfulness, or the logistics involved in enforcing them. Trump has always been into optics, and his first few days as President are no exception.
With that in mind, here’s a running tally of Trump’s first seven days in office:
America first, Earth second—Trump executive orders on the environment:
On Tuesday, Trump signed 5 executive actions that remove environmental safeguards, threaten indigenous land, and benefit wealthy corporations (shocker). In the name of “streamlining” the “long, horrible process” of complying with environmental regulations, Trump did the following:
- Fast-tracked the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline—A pipeline that was denied permits due to its potential environmental degradation and is now suing the US government for $15 billion in lost profits.
- Fast-tracked the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline—the contested pipeline that Obama denied permits to because of the threat it posed to Native land and water. (Note: Trump supposedly sold his stock in this pipeline, but unless we demand transparency about his conflicts of interest, we’ll just have to take his word for it). Also, consider calling North Dakota Governor and demand he keep the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe safe from police violence.
- Mandated that pipeline projects use American-made steel—a move that could potentially violate the WTO.
- Instructions to all federal agencies to “review” manufacturing regulations (get rid of).
- Fast-tracked approval for “high-priority” infrastructure projects as submitted by any governor or Cabinet secretary.
Bottom line: Under the guise of “regulatory reform” Trump is giving free reign to oil companies to exploit lands, Native peoples, and the environment in order to make a buck.
Here’s what you can do:
If you enjoyed the Women’s March on Washington, mark your calendars because on April 29th, there will be a People’s Climate March.
Think about where your money is going, and consider divesting from financial institutions that are funding harmful economic projects. Trump is a businessman, and it makes fiscal sense to move towards cleaner energy.
“Restoring the rule of law”– Trump’s executive orders on immigration
Trump’s views on immigration have been ~radical~ since he referred to undocumented Mexican immigrants as “rapists.” But a series of executive actions on Wednesday and Thursday have turned his xenophobia into political reality.
- Called for the “immediate construction of a physical wall.” The language also calls for the construction of more detention centers and an additional 15,000 immigration officials. If we suspend reality for just one second and assume Mexico is going to pay for the wall, that still begs the question: who is going to pay for the rest of it? This executive order is more like an executive request for Congress to find a way to pay for it. Spoiler alert: it’s going to be you.
- Cut off funds to “sanctuary cities.” These are cities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration laws to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. Denying states federal funding in order to coerce them to comply is generally considered a no no, and groups are already threatening to sue. The silver lining? Cities across the country are stepping up and reaffirming their position as sanctuary cities.
- Indefinitely bar Syrian refugees from entering the country, along with all refugees for at least 120 days.
- Revived programs that allow local law enforcement to play a larger role in the arrest and deportation of undocumented immigrants—a program that has frequently been criticized for widespread abuse.
A bunch of drafts were leaked. So, while these haven’t officially been signed into law yet, you’re likely to see the following:
- A ban on Muslim immigration from 7 Muslim-majority countries.
- A temporary ban on all refugees–until officials determine that there are sufficient safeguards in place.
- Cutting the total yearly refugee allowance–from 110,000 to 50,000
- An end to DACA—this is the program that grants undocumented youth temporary status to work and study in the US without fear of deportation
- Severe restrictions on legal immigration that could affect high-skilled immigrants and foreign students.
- Denying federal services to undocumented immigrants–services that undocumented immigrants are lawfully eligible for, such as Medicaid. Furthermore, the language suggests that undocumented immigrants currently receiving means-tested programs are subject to deportation.
- Denial of entry if a potential immigrant is likely to receive these benefits–this is the most extreme immigration law…ever.
**Update: On Friday, Trump officially signed the leaked memos banning refugees from Muslim-majority countries until the United States deems them safe, banning all Syrian refugees indefinitely, cutting the number of refugees that are allowed from 110,000 to 50,000, and giving states more flexibility in deciding how refugee-friendly their policies are because, according to Trump, “we don’t want ’em here.”
The theme here is that the scope of Trump’s executive orders are really unprecedented, and impose huge legal and logistical nightmares for the agencies charged with enforcing them.
Bottom line: Trump’s approach to immigration policy could have devastating consequences for millions of people living within the borders of the United States, and it raises some serious legal and ethical questions.
Here’s what you can do:
You can text SOLIDARITY to 73179 to connect to the House of Representatives to voice your opposition to the orders.
Use your twitter or instagram to post a #SolidaritySelfie. It’s a social media campaign designed to show mass support for Muslim and immigrant communities that are targeted by these orders.
Show up to local rallies, community event, town hall meetings, and express your support. It’s important to show these communities that they are not fighting these battles alone.
Support the Council for American-Islam Relations, and tune into their news conference on Monday discussing the Constitutional challenges to Trump’s newest executive order.
And here’s a really important one: contact local politicians from the bottom up. Tell them immigrants and refugees are welcome in your community, and to pass a resolution to make it official. There are cities across the country willing to lose funding to protect the rights of their residents–citizens or not. Urge your politicians at every level to join in the fight against Trump’s radical immigration agenda.
“Scientific integrity” and the Trump information blackout
Probably one of the most egregious things the Trump administration has done so far is withhold federal data from, and restrict federal agencies from communicating with, the public. Transparency should not be a partisan issue.
I want to preface this by saying, clearly, we have not held Trump to the same intellectual, ethical, or factual standard that we have other candidates. That has always been, and should always be unacceptable. But the restrictions he has imposed upon federal agencies is a terrifying reality check.
You’ve probably heard that the transition team has requested the names of individual employees from multiple agencies whose work is at odds with Trump’s policy priorities. This is not standard procedure and should not be treated as such—this is intimidation.
Now, in the early days of his presidency, the Trump transition team has instituted a freeze on EPA external communications, has instructed them to remove their webpage on climate-change, and has requested that they submit any studies or data to a review process. This has prompted scientists to frantically download government data before it’s gone.
Similar communication constraints are in place on federal employees across multiple agencies, though many agencies deny reports that they are muzzling their employees.
Bottom line: removing scientific data from government websites is not unprecedented, but the measures the Trump transition team are going through to restrict communication is unprecedented, and, might just be illegal. Every piece of data we lose is a blow to the people fighting for environmental, social, and economic justice, and in an age where the administration is lying about even the most mundane facts, I certainly don’t trust them to deliver.
Here’s what you can do:
In the spirit of accountability, consider signing this petition calling on government to mandate local law enforcement to regularly report data on shootings, arrests, and other uses of force.
And everything in between
- A hiring freeze on all federal jobs—a move other Republican presidents have tried, but one which has never resulted in the kind of downsized government they have hoped for.
- A regulatory freeze on all new rules—A directive ordering agencies to abstain from enforcing any rules until the new administration reviews them.
- A ban on federal funds going to international groups that provide or “promote” abortions.
- A formal withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership—a trade deal that had already died in Congress
- An order to ease the “regulatory burden” of Obamacare, whatever that means.
- A denial of mortgage relief to middle- and low-income people–a move that is estimated will force 30,000 people out of their homes.
Bottom line: As people have said before me, Donald Trump is doing exactly what he said he was going to do. Let’s not let him.
If you’re interested in reading more, Politico has a great roundup that ranks his actions by “immediate impact” and “potential importance.”