In the midst of what could be the worst natural disaster the United States has ever seen, it is harder than usual to keep track of the news, a thing the current presidential administration makes exhausting anyway. Normal would have been a president spending the first days of Hurricane Harvey sharing calls for help. Instead, the Trump administration pushed through a bunch of divisive directives, some at the tail end of a Friday as Hurricane Harvey was wreaking havoc. The issue lately is not so much that we're not made aware of the news but that almost immediately we have to push it aside for something else. Remember 100 days ago when the White House announced it wasn't going to release a tax plan after all?
Here's a reminder of the other big things that happened in the past few weeks that you may want to keep an eye on moving forward, and some options for getting more involved.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, more commonly known as the DREAM act, is an Obama-era policy that protects undocumented immigrants who came here as children. Trump promised during his campaign to get rid of it, but since being inaugurated he's waffled about it just even saying over the summer that DREAMers had nothing to worry about.
But news began to spread that President Trump was having meetings to weigh two options for its removal: killing it immediately or letting it die slowly. He's chosen the latter.
In more normal times, the proposed deportation of 800,000 people who have lived in the United States practically their entire lives would be the main story across the country, but it has been a week. Attorney generals from Texas and a handful of other states have said they'll challenge the program in court if it's not withdrawn by September 5, which basically meant Trump was pressured to make a decision before then, and other lawmakers share the blame for this attack on human dignity.
In more normal times, the proposed deportation of 800,000 people who have lived in the United States practically their entire lives would be the main story across the country, but it has been a week.
Abolishing DACA would empower people who think immigrants and people of color aren't really Americans. It would also be disastrous for the economy. If you disagree with President Trump's plan to end DACA here's what you can do.
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The Presidential Pardon of Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Recent presidents have waited at least 500 days before exercising their right to pardon or commute anyone's sentence, usually for stuff like perjury or tax evasion. Trump made it about half that before deciding to use his power to pardon Joe Arpaio, a man who by every standard of justice in our country deserves to go to prison.
After his vendetta against Latinx and the horrific practices inside his own prisons, the former sheriff is these days best known for empowering a team of deputies so sociopathic they burned down someone's house and, after realizing it was the wrong house, chased its dog back inside to be burned alive and laughed at the owners as they watched and cried. If against all odds you haven't seen the Phoenix New Times' roundup of Arpaio's greatest hits over the last couple of decades, check it out now.
While there's not much to do about the pardon itself, the ACLU is still a great resource for fighting injustices, especially since the plaintiff in the initial Arpaio lawsuit was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and partner organizations.
Of the pardon, ACLU Deputy Legal Director Cecillia Wang said, "Once again, the president has acted in support of illegal, failed immigration enforcement practices that target people of color and have been struck down by the courts. His pardon of Arpaio is a presidential endorsement of racism."
Support the ACLU's important work if you haven't already.
The Trans Military Ban
In a move that a great many people see as unconstitutional, Trump signed a directive ordering Defense Secretary James Mattis to figure out how to ban transgender service members from the military. Since then, there's been speculation about whether Mattis would actually follow the order, then a mischaracterized report that he had frozen it, and then a declaration by the guy himself that he was going to fall in line after all.
You can read about how to take a stand against the directive now.
If you enjoy the patriotic ideals of selfless service, you will find it a bummer that Trump also proposed eliminating all funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, saying "Funding community service and subsidizing the operation of nonprofit organizations is outside the role of the Federal Government," and "to the extent these activities have value, they should be supported by the nonprofit and private sectors and not with Federal subsidies provided through the complex Federal grant structure run by CNCS."
If you enjoy the patriotic ideals of selfless service, you will find it a bummer that Trump also proposed eliminating all funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The independent federal agency oversees AmeriCorps -- a domestic public service program akin to the Peace Corps -- along with a bunch of other public service programs. The 80,000 AmeriCorps members work for essentially no pay dedicate themselves to community engagement through teaching in underfunded schools, cleaning public parks, and aiding veterans and their families, which I guess to Trump sound like things no one will miss.
Join the #LetUsServe movement and sign the petition to tell congress to expand service opportunities like AmeriCorps.
Weakening Environmental Rules on Infrastructure
Buried in the chaos of the Charlottesville Unite the Right aftermath, in mid-August President Trump signed an encompassing executive order reducing permitting regulations to expedite construction of pipelines, bridges roads and other infrastructure under the guide that the country needs to fix a "badly broken" infrastructure system. True, America's infrastructure is in poor shape, but this move will weaken standards that required the federal government to factor in climate change and sea level rise when building new infrastructure.
It dismantles the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard set by President Obama, which is particularly troubling giving the utter devastation Texas and surrounding states are dealing with from Hurricane Harvey. Trump was not operating in isolation on this as several members of Congress applauded the move, like Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-LA) who, according to the New York Times, "was thrilled" by the decision .
One way you can take action on this is to join the Ready for 100 campaign to voice your support for renewable energy, and to fight climate change in your hometown now.