BY NANDINI LAHOTY
The United States’ founding story portrays it as a “city on a hill” and a model for the rest of the world. U.S. presidents, from Ronald Reagan to John F. Kennedy, have proclaimed how exceptional the United States is as a country where freedoms are upheld at home and defended abroad. However, under the presidency of Donald Trump, United States continued to move backwards in human rights both at home and overseas.
Despite Trump’s support for minimal reforms, he implemented an array of anti-immigration policies, human right abuses, Racism, sexism, harsh criminal sentencing, drug policies, hate crimes, national security and the latest is no protection from COVID-19. Trump has failed to meet the needs and aspirations of the citizens, since 2017.
After being nominated in 2017, on January 27, he signed an executive order, the first version of his Muslim travel ban- that discriminated against Muslims and banned refugees. Later in February, Trump signed an executive order outlining for regulating the US financial system and calling for a 120-day review of existing laws, such as, Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer protection Act. This order was viewed as Trump’s opening attack on Consumer Protection Laws. He was inclined towards wealthy corporations and millionaires and undermined the working class. His fiscal year 2018 budget showed massive and unnecessary tax cuts from the wealthy corporations which are to be paid by the normal working class. He also released an infrastructure plan that focuses on giving the public assets to private hands, another giveaway to wealthy corporations at the expense of working class. Henceforth, to benefit himself from the wealthy political allies he is undermining indigenous rights. Trump’s decision to pull out US from the Paris Climate Agreement is further going to harm the native communities, who are at the utmost risk of effects of climate change.
Later in 2018, the administration announced its decisions to bar citizens from Haiti from receiving H2-A and H2-B visas. His administration further failed to meet the court-order to reunite the children and families separated at the border. On August 15, he proposed a law to restrict protest right in Washington, by closing 80% of White House sidewalk, putting new limits on spontaneous demonstration and charging fee for those who start any protest against their administration.
In the next two years, i.e, 2019 And 2020, it has been proven that United States is a glass house when it comes to human rights. The administration’s policies on religious liberty, reproductive rights, and issues that affect people of colour, immigrants, and indigenous populations have harmed people at home and around the world.
The Racial Disparity has deliberately increased in Trump’s Administration. Black people are about 13% of the population, however, 40% of them are in prisons. They are imprisoned at more than five times the White people. Black people use illegal drugs at the similar rate as Whites, but suffer drug arrest at relatively high rates. The police reportedly shot and killed 876 people in October 2018. Of those killed, whose race were known 22% were black. And of the unarmed people, killed by police, 32% were Black. ‘Whatever the crime is, the police is not supposed to shoot the people.’ This basic right has been violated again and again in Trump’s presidency.
Conservative movements in the United States have long tried to restrict reproductive rights, but the Trump administration’s approach has reached new levels of discriminatory and harmful policies at home and on the international stage. Access to abortion has been legalized and protected by the U.S. Supreme Court and affirmed as a fundamental human right by U.N. bodies and 50 countries around the world. But the Trump administration has used its influence at the United Nations to pressure states to deny these rights abroad while eroding abortion rights in the United States. He imposed an extremely expansive ‘GAG RULE’ , which restricts U.S funds for non-governmental organization that provides abortion counselling and services. Later he also proposed a “Domestic Gag rule.” With this rule, the administration is targeting the most vulnerable groups and limiting their access to reproductive health services, such as, STD testing, contraception, etc.
Despite the campaign pledges to protect the LGBTQ+ community, Trump administration has issued regulations, executive orders and policies that has reversed the tactics to improve the lives of LGBTQ people. Trump administration has argued in three court cases that discrimination protection on the basis of sex does not apply to LGBTQ people. It also banned Transgender troops from serving in the military, refused to enforce protections prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation for students and workers and proposed new regulations that roll back the rights of LGBTQ people. He has also refused to condemn the murder of LGBTQ activists and transgender people in US and abroad.
And the recent situation of COVID-19, Trump declared to reporters that, “When we say we have more Corona cases, I don’t look at the bad site, I rather am occupied with the positive aspect that our testing methods are the best. And I view it as a badge of honour.” He is not concerned with the citizens losing their life, however happy that they have advanced technology that no other country in the world can match.
The United States must be bewildered with the catastrophic human rights heritage Trump administration will leave behind. In order to retain what it has lost, the next president should take a holistic view of both defending and protecting the human rights of the native and overseas.