Every other Thursday, the Equal Voice News digest, “Making It in Trump’s America: People, Policy & Poverty,” will track the latest from the Trump administration and whether its policies are creating poverty or prosperity. We’ll have reports from families and grassroots organizations working on those issues around the country. Here’s our latest:
Real Architects of Immigration Reform? It’s Not Who You Think
President Trump prides himself on being the guy who gets deals done. But his border wall is stalled, and judges have blocked his travel ban. Which raises the question – who exactly is doing the work to make America great again?
People in the communities directly affected by those policies – that’s who.
In Tennessee, for example, immigrant youth have been going office to office, sharing their stories with state lawmakers about college costs and their willingness to boost the U.S. economy for greater prosperity.
The result? Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Tennessee are considering a deal (yes, a bipartisan deal) that would make their state the first one this year to approve in-state college tuition rates for immigrant youth brought to the U.S. as young children by their parents.
Because of their immigration status, these young people – many have spent their entire childhoods working toward college in the Tennessee school system – face sky-high “out-of-state” tuition rates.
If the deal is passed, an estimated 25,000 youth in Tennessee would benefit.
Imagine that: Lawmakers listening to people they represent, then working together to reach a solution. It would be democracy at work. Let there be light.
Sanctuary Now for Immigrants
You know that executive order on immigration Trump issued a while back? The one that accuses jurisdictions that have declined to get on board with his policy of massive deportations of “willfully violating federal law” and instructs them to join in the round-ups – or else?
Looks like it may have run up against that pesky barrier to so many of Trump’s immigration aspirations: the U.S. Constitution. And Californians (known for starting national trends) are calling his bluff.
As federal immigration raids cause chaos and terror in immigration communities, California lawmakers are making progress on designating “sanctuary” status for the entire Golden state.
What does that mean? Unless we’re talking about serious or violent felons being released from custody, local police and deputies will be barred from cooperating with U.S. immigration agents, according to the latest version of SB 54, which is headed to the state Assembly for a vote.
Local police, also, are under no legal obligation to enforce U.S. immigration laws. They’re paid with local tax money (you know, that separation of power and federalism thing).
The drivers of change? Local legislators, immigrant families, as well as friends, neighbors, classmates and employers who recognize immigrants’ contributions to the communities where they have made new homes.
Remind us, elected leaders in Washington, D.C.: Where did your ancestors live before they moved to the U.S.?
Repeal and Replace: Like “Night of the Living Dead,” Efforts Keep Coming Back
Not even Republicans back the American Health Care Act, according to this poll. Last month, the GOP health care bill hit the deck before it could even come to a vote in the U.S. House. But like the zombies who are all the rage these days, it just keeps coming back to life.
At least, the Trump administration keeps trying to revive it. Whether they’ll succeed is another question.
One problem: According to The Atlantic, the new bill doesn’t have any actual text yet. And riddle us this, Batman: What is the GOP response to the analysis that 24 million American would lose coverage under the AHCA?
Moderate Democrats and centrist Republicans are trying a truly radical approach (in 2017, mind you) to health care reform, according to Vox: compromise. Remember compromise? Remember moderates?
While we’re on the topic, here’s a bonus fact: Medicaid provides health care for 70 million Americans, you know, so they can have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Mommy, What Are Consumer Protections?
The nation’s banking crisis, which started in 2008, highlighted a key question: Can the market, left to its own devices, correct its shortcomings so that families (you know, like us) won’t get hurt?
Republicans in Congress seem to think we’ll do just fine without federal regulation. Vox says they’ve proposed gutting the Dodd-Frank Act (which supporters say gives stability to the nation’s banking system).
They also want to repeal regulations meant to stop a failing financial services firm from jeopardizing the U.S. economy and block a commercial bank from engaging in speculative trading.
They’re also keen, Vox says, on preventing the Federal Reserve from working on financial regulation and other key protections from financial industry excesses.
Yeah, we know: This is big stuff.
From Lawmakers to Robots: Who Is to Blame for Pay Inequality?
Meanwhile, nationwide, the minimum wage is essential to keeping working families out of poverty.
So, let’s just call these news items below two steps forward, one step back, on the wage-and-work front:
- “Judge strikes down Miami Beach’s minimum wage increase”
- “GOP’s minimum wage rollback headed to Barnstad’s desk”
- ”Legislation to override St. Louis minimum wage could see quick action in state Senate”
- “Robots are slashing U.S. wages and worsening pay inequality”
Here’s the Upside: Activism Matters
- “A minimum wage bill in Arkansas moves forward”
- ”Black Lives Matter organizers are joining forces with wage advocates”
- “New Orleans issues a janitorial contract bid and includes ‘living wage’ requirements”
- ”Pay-equity fight quickens, even without U.S. Cheerleader in Chief”
- ”Taking Europe’s lead, U.S. Millennials want paid parental leave”
And Here’s Inspiration
Meet 27 community heroes you need to know (celebrated on Cesar Chavez Day 2017, which was March 31).
We like to think they and everyone fighting for social justice are, really, the antidotes to despair.
You know, as in: They’re the real “deal.”
(Sources: Jobs With Justice digest, Associated Press, news outlets, and, of course, our neighbors. Brad Wong is news editor for Equal Voice News, which is published by Marguerite Casey Foundation. Ebony Slaughter, an Equal Voice News contributor, provided research assistance with this digest.)