The GOP’s so-called health care plan has grave consequences for all Americans, particularly those who represent communities with low socioeconomic status and underrepresented populations. Betsy DeVos’ has made beyond questionable comments about Americans of African descent.
Needless to say, the Trump administration’s lack of cultural sensitivity is quite concerning. However, attitude reflects leadership and Donald Trump’s own blatant ignorance around matters of diversity ultimately bears the most blame for the bold displays of intolerance on the part of members of his administration, and in some cases, even his supporters.
Simply put, the Trump administration’s ability to uphold the law on matters of civil rights is questionable at best. It now appears that others are beginning to wonder whether team Trump has the capacity to properly function in the area of civil rights.
Citing “grave concerns,” The United States Commission on Civil Rights voted to approve an intense two-year investigation into the “degree to which current budgets and staffing levels allow civil rights offices to perform” their functions within the Trump administration. The Commission is a bipartisan entity whose responsibility is to advise Trump and Congress regarding matters of civil rights.
Among other things, the group’s attention became focused on the Trump administration after several agencies’ budgets began reflecting staffing cuts in areas that monitor civil rights. According to The Commission the:
‘. . .proposed cuts would result in a dangerous reduction of civil rights enforcement across the country, leaving communities of color, LGBT people, older people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups exposed to greater risk of discrimination.’
The Commission noted concerns with seven specific agencies. Not surprisingly, among those were the DeVos-led Department of Education and the Sessions-run Department of Justice.
As part of the damning statement announcing their investigation, the Commission said DeVos’ “repeated refusal” to make a commitment to adhering to civil rights’ laws during testimony before Congress, along with budget cuts within her department’s Office of Civil Rights, are “particularly troubling.” That statement stemmed from DeVos refusal to commit to banning discrimination of LGBTQ+ students.
At a time where the shootings of unarmed Americans of African descent by members of law enforcement, as well as the lack of criminal convictions of those officers, is at an all time high, the Department of Justice must be seen as a beacon of light where impartiality and oversight are concerned. The police killings of unarmed people doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface where the Trump administration’s systematic efforts to implement racism are factored in.
Policies around Trump’s Muslim ban, Mexican border wall, and other issues relating to immigration are deeply troubling. With this in mind, the Commission asserts that the DoJ seems to have totally changed its priorities:
‘Actions by the Department indicate it is minimizing its civil rights efforts. For example, a majority of the Commission criticized DOJ’s decision to site Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers in courthouses as a dangerous impediment to access to justice for all Americans.’
The probe is also set to look into the Departments of Labor, HUD, Health and Human Services, and EPA, as well as the Legal Services Corporation.
Unfortunately, The Commission does not have enforcement powers. It will present its results to Congress, then the onus is up to lawmakers to take next steps.
Catherine E. Lhamon, Chair of the Commission said:
‘For 60 years, Congress has charged the Commission to monitor Federal civil rights enforcement and recommend necessary change. We take this charge seriously, and we look forward to reporting our findings to Congress, the President, and the American people.’
Featured Image via Getty/Chip Somodevilla/Staff