Commentary

On its 65th anniversary, Brown v. Board of Education and school desegregation are in jeopardy

Tomorrow is the 65th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education — the decision that ordered the desegregation of American public schools. Most of us are familiar with the foot-dragging and obstructionism with which that ruling was met for many years, but fewer are aware of the hard fact that the political right is, quite literally, still doing its worst to reverse the ruling. As advocates for fair courts in Washington have been pointing out with disturbing regularity of late, some of President Trump’s nominees to serve lifetime appointments on the federal bench have refused to affirm that Brown is and should remain the law of the land.

As Paul Gordon of People for the American Way recently explained:

Nominees for the court that issued Brown have long expressed their agreement with the decision without generating headlines. But since President Trump took office, judicial nominees’ support for Brown has gone the way of so many other democratic norms.

Perhaps the first to refuse to acknowledge the correctness of the case was Wendy Vitter, a Louisiana district court nominee scheduled for a confirmation vote this week. Since then, it has become commonplace.

Their excuse is that judicial ethics prohibit them from suggesting how they might rule in a particular case that might come before them. But do they really believe it likely—or even possible—that the principle of Brown is going to be relitigated? Revisiting separate but equal has not been a subject of any serious debate, at least in public.”

Gordon then goes on to list a dozen Trump nominees with “poor records on issues related to racial equality” who help pose a threat to Brown.

Meanwhile, a new report released last week by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA and the Center for Education and Civil Rights at Penn State University tells the sobering story of the Right’s ongoing resistance to Brown. This is from the a release on the report distributed by the National Education Policy Center: Read more

Commentary, News

Trump housing proposal threatens 55,000 children

CNN reports that the Trump administration will come out with a new, overarching immigration proposal today. Details are still a little fuzzy, but it will apparently offer no relief to DACA kids.

One proposal about which we already know more than we’d like is Trump’s latest on immigrant families and federally subsidized housing. That proposal — thanks Ben Carson! — would threaten more than 55,000 children with eviction. This is from the National Housing Law Project and the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which are spearheading the #KeepFamiliesTogether campaign:

HUD’S PROPOSED RULE

On May 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a proposed rule that would prohibit “mixed-status” families from living in public and other subsidized housing. Mixed-status families are households that include both members who are eligible and ineligible for housing assistance based on their immigration status. Both statute and regulation allow families to live together in subsidized housing even if one family member is ineligible so long as the housing subsidy is decreased to exclude the ineligible person from the assistance. Importantly, just because a household member is an “ineligible” immigrant, it doesn’t mean that they are undocumented. Immigrants can have legal status and still not be eligible for public housing and Section 8 programs.

The rule would further require all residents under the age of 62 to have their immigration status screened through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE), which is operated by the Department of Homeland Security. Families with members who are deemed “ineligible” will be evicted from subsidized housing after 18 months or sooner.

THE RULE’S POTENTIAL IMPACT

More than 55,000 children face eviction under the proposed rule.

HUD’s proposed rule would force families of mixed immigration status to break up to receive housing assistance, to forego the assistance altogether, or face termination from the programs. This rule will directly impact thousands of immigrant families’ access to housing and will have a chilling effect that puts thousands more at risk of homelessness. HUD’s own analysis shows that more than 55,000 children, who are U.S. citizens or who are otherwise eligible to receive housing benefits, could face eviction under the proposed rule. The proposed rule will continue to engender fear and chaos among immigrants and their families.

While HUD claims the agency proposed the rule out of concern for long wait lists, this rule will reduce the number of subsidies provided to families. By getting rid of mixed-status families, HUD’s analysis shows that millions of new dollars would have to be provided to families with all eligible members. To make up for the higher costs, HUD would be forced to reduce the quality and quantity of assisted housing.

The proposed rule will be administratively burdensome to implement for housing authorities and private owners of Section 8-assisted properties. Housing providers will be forced to focus their resources on terminating and evicting families, while diverting resources away from property maintenance and the employment-related resident services they already provide to pay for additional staff and regulatory compliance. These additional burdens could deter private housing providers from participating in the Section 8 programs, worsening the affordable housing crisis.

WHAT THE RULE IS REALLY ABOUT Read more

Commentary

Schoolteacher, editorial blast lawmakers for negligence on gun violence

Be sure to check out a pair of “must reads” this morning regarding the criminally negligent approach toward gun violence taken by state legislative leaders.

The first is Forsyth County schoolteacher Brooks Jones’ fine op-ed over on the main Policy Watch website. As Jones observes in “A gun in my classroom? No thanks.” there are multiple reasons not to arm schoolteachers, but the main one is how it would alter her relationship with students:

“Teachers know a positive classroom environment is based on trust. My students trust me to treat them fairly, provide a safe place for them to learn and make mistakes, conduct myself in a predictable and professional manner, and provide instruction that educates and enriches. I am not the only teacher who also provides food when students are hungry, a supportive ear and shoulder to cry on when they want to share their troubles, and resources for their families during a crisis. A gun in my classroom destroys all of that. The ever-present existence of a deadly weapon delivers an implicit threat, and some oppressive questions: “What will happen in this room leading up to the use of the gun? Is it going to happen today?” And worst of all: “Can I trust Ms. Jones to keep us safe instead of using the gun on us?”

The second comes from today’s lead editorial in the Greensboro News & Record “Youth who took on shooters rightly hailed as heroes; do-nothing politicians, not so much.” Here’s an excerpt:

“There is something very wrong with our country when young students confronting gunmen have more courage than their elected leaders.

Twice in the span of a week, we saw dramatic news stories about a young person saving lives of his fellow students by rushing a shooter at their school….

It’s right to honor the heroes who bravely sacrifice their lives. But how much better it would be — for them, their families and everyone — if they weren’t placed in the awful position of deciding whether to fight a killer.

How much better it would be if our children weren’t growing up fearful of gunmen at their schools? How much better it would be if our politicians could muster more courage in standing up to the gun lobby? Read more

Commentary

The most important editorial of the weekend

Image: Natural Resources Defense Council

This week’s entry was actually published last evening by the Winston-Salem Journal, but its blunt and terrifying message is one that needs to be heard and repeated over and over in the weeks, months and years ahead.

The headline is “We are destroying our future” and the editorial that follows calls on all of us to arise from our suicidal slumber and get serious about saving our planet. Here are a couple of excerpts:

We are slowly killing ourselves.

The human race is stubbornly pursuing self-destructive behavior, rapidly destroying much in the world that is essential for human survival.

A summary of a new United Nations report on the alarming decline in biodiversity around the world offers stark warnings that we humans must do more — a lot more — to protect the natural habitats we haven’t already destroyed,

The report is not the casual opinions of extremists, not some unproved “theory.” It was prepared by hundreds of international experts drawing on thousands of scientific studies.

They found that, largely because of human activity, the abundance of native animal and plant life has dropped by at least 20 percent, with the decline mostly in the last century.

The essay goes on to explain the close link between climate change and the planet’s rapidly declining biodiversity. Here’s the conclusion:

Losing animal and plant species is not a problem just for “nature lovers.” It’s potentially a problem for human well-being, the scientists say.

Biodiversity is essential if we are to have the food and water we need.

Everything in nature is interrelated, and the more we destroy the balance, the more we are likely to suffer.

Wetlands purify drinking water. Coral reefs are critical habitats for the fish we eat. Plants, especially tropical plants, produce life-saving medicines, including, no doubt, some we haven’t yet discovered. Domesticated animals and plants feed us, and we have fewer and fewer varieties of those. With less genetic diversity, there’s less resilience to disease. Increasing heat and drought will make things worse. Our food system will be endangered.

If we don’t take action.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

Commentary

Editorial highlights the insanity of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies

In case you missed it, there was a genuine “feel good” story recently when a Charlotte immigration judge granted permanent residency to a North Carolina woman named Minerva Cisneros Garcia who had, thanks to the madness of U.S. immigration policy, been living in a church in Greensboro for two years. As an editorial that ran this week in both the Greensboro News & Record and Winston-Salem Journal highlighted, if ever there was a person who deserved to gain immigration status, Garcia was it:

Garcia illegally entered the United States in 2000 to escape violence in her native Mexico and to find better opportunities to educate her older son, Eduardo, who is blind.

She was employed, had no criminal record and dutifully checked in annually with immigration officials, as required. In light of Eduardo’s needs, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2013 gave her a stay of removal from the country.

But four years later, for reasons that are still unclear, she was told on May 25, 2017, to leave the country by June 30 of that year.

So, she was forced to live in a church (and not step outside of it) for two years to avoid deportation and, thankfully, for reasons no one knows for sure, ICE officials backed down and she is now here legally.

But, of course, there are hundreds of thousands of people out there like Garcia — good, decent, hardworking people who fled terror and just want a chance to live a normal existence. Indeed, many have resorted to the last ditch effort of going into sanctuary (a kind of friendly prison) in churches around the country in order to avoid possible death sentences back in their countries of origin.

It should not have to be this way. And while, the editorial is correct that “many of these sad stories could be avoided if Democrats and Republicans in Congress would find the moral courage to address comprehensive immigration reform that addresses both border security and the humane treatment of desperate people,” we all know that there is one man who could change this situation tomorrow if he gave two hoots about other human beings.

Tragically, however, for now, Donald Trump and his minions at ICE continue to mete out death sentences to people like Minerva Cisneros Garcia every day. All who enable this cruel man and his un-American policies ought to be ashamed.