Author: Laurel Cunningham (page 1 of 5)

Mediterranean Crossings – NGOs Helping or Hurting?

While much of the international media has turned attention elsewhere, thousands of migrants are still attempting to cross the Mediterranean in rickety boats for a chance at safety in Europe.

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The American Dream? Yeah right.

A federal appeals panel denied President Trump’s actions to re-implement his notorious travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim nations. While many people are trying to rush to the United States as the legality of the case remains hopeful for a minute, the long-term is still unsure as following the court rule, Trump tweeted, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

In July, writer for the New York Times, Amanda Taub wrote that a central conflict of 21st century politics is the question, “Who belongs?” This question provokes a second question, “Who doesn’t belong?” In regards to Trump’s travel ban, the heart-breaking answer to the question “Who doesn’t belong in the U.S.?” is refugees. The most vulnerable population in the world has been denied access to security, justice, and peace. Hopefully, the federal appeals panel’s ruling holds up against Trump’s promise of a court battle, but the underlying message sending to refugees is, “You are not welcome.”

Prior to the court rejection, Harvard Law School’s Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program published an insightful report titled, “The Impact of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Asylum Seekers.” The most striking claim in the article states, “The United States is not a “safe country of asylum” for those fleeing persecution and violence.” The report finds that Trump’s executive orders will likely increase asylum seekers stuck in detention, limit access to counsel, denial of family reunification, and more. It is a very interesting report that sums up a large number of the major topics in migration in the U.S. and how the executive orders are negatively affecting processes.

While refugees currently are starting to be able to travel again to the United States, the future is still uncertain. Many recent refugees and immigrants to the United States are starting to question their decision to come here. The U.S. has always been an international beacon for immigration, safety and justice with Lady Liberty’s torch lighting the way. But following Trump’s executive orders, refugees have been turning to Canada as an option.

New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof concluded, “Canada’s leaders nurtured multiculturalism into a sacred part of the country’s identity. As the rest of the world bangs the doors shut, Canadians celebrate their openness – and, polls show, now take more pride in multiculturalism than in hockey.” Recent migrants from Somalia, Ghana, Djibouti, and more have started crossing the US-Canada border in these treacherous winter months. Many of them explained that after Trump was elected, they could see the writing on the wall. Migrants have been crossing the border in unmarked areas in North Dakota and Minnesota. Small towns in Canada along the border often help migrants and transport them to the Canadian Border Services Agency, but they’ve never seen so many people coming in like they are now. Migrants see hope in Canada, and thanks to Trump’s vilifying executive orders, they no longer see the appeal of the “American Dream.”

Further reading:

Court Refuses to Reinstate Travel Ban, Dealing Trump Another Legal Loss

Losing Hope in U.S., Migrants Make Icy Crossing to Canada

 

Trump’s Cabinet Round-Up

Trump’s Cabinet Round-Up

        The majority of Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees are still waiting to be confirmed by the Senate, but in the meantime here is a round-up of the top cabinet candidates and appointed positions. As of Tuesday, January 24 only three of Trump’s nominees have been confirmed – CIA Director (Mike Pompeo), Defense Secretary (James Nattis), UN Ambassador (Nikki Haley),  and Homeland Security Secretary (John Kelly). Trump’s cabinet nominations have resulted in an array of responses – from highly contentious to little opposition. Trump’s cabinet nominations are 86% white (compared to 52% with Obama) and 82% male (compared to 65% with Obama). His cabinet also consists of 14% billionaires, whereas both Obama and George W. Bush had no cabinet billionaires.

The Cabinet

  •      Vice President – Mike Pence

Previously served as the Governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017.

  •      Defense Secretary – James N. Nattis

Nattis is a retired general, who aims to fight against ISIS. During Nattis’s hearing, he rejected some of Trump’s campaign rhetoric by saying he supported the Iran nuclear agreement, supported NATO, and has a tougher position on Russia.

  •      Homeland Security Secretary – John F. Kelly

Kelly is a retired four-star Marine general, who would be in charge of carrying out Trump’s infamous “wall.” During his hearing, he laid to rest many of Trump’s most outrageous claims such as forcing Muslims to “register” with the government.

  •      Attorney General – Jeff Sessions

Sessions is a Senator from Alabama and was an early supporter of Trump. Sessions supports strict immigration and toughening up on crime. The hallmark of Sessions’ hearing was Georgia Representative John Lewis questioning Sessions’ racist history. Naturally, Trump responded on twitter to Lewis’s comments.

  •      Secretary of State – Rex W. Tillerson

Tillerson is the president and chief executive of Exxon Mobil. Previous Secretaries of State have focused on globalizing the U.S., but Trump is a critic of globalization. Tillerson was grilled on his relationships in Russia, where he has close business ties. Tillerson also noted his skepticism of climate change, explaining he did not see it as a national security threat like others do.

  •      Transportation Secretary – Elaine L. Chao

Chao was the labor secretary under President George W. Bush and is a longtime Washington politician. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. Her nomination has faced little to no opposition. She would be in charge of fulfilling Trump’s promise to rebuild America’s transportation infrastructure.

  •      Secretary of Housing and Urban Development – Ben Carson

Carson is a former neurosurgeon and ran against Trump to be the Republican nominee in the presidential election. Carson would be in charge of affordable housing, fair-housing laws, and mortgage insurance. Interestingly enough, Carson believes that individual gumption is the key to overcoming poverty, not government programs. In his hearing, Carson explained he would never abolish a program without having an alternative for people.

  •      Interior Secretary – Ryan Zinke

Zinke is a representative from Montana and former Navy SEAL. Zinke is crucial in deciding if/how to continue with Obama’s efforts to cut down on oil, coal and gas, and increase the usage of wind and solar. Unlike Trump, Zinke does not believe climate change is a hoax.

  •      Education Secretary – Betsy DeVos

DeVos is the former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and proponent of school vouchers. She is also a billionaire. She would oversee Trump’s promise to move national responsibilities to state and local governments. Her hearing was heated because of the partisan split over charter schools and vouchers.

  •      Health and Human Services Secretary – Tom Price

Price is a Republican representative from Georgia and an orthopedic surgeon. He has led the fight against “Obamacare” in Congress. He would work to fulfill Trump’s goal of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

  •      Commerce Secretary – Wilbur Ross

Ross is an investor and billionaire. He is known as the “King of Bankruptcy,” and helped Trump avoid personal bankruptcy. Ross vowed to increase tariffs on China and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

  •      Treasury Secretary – Steven Mnuchin

Mnuchin was formerly with Goldman Sachs and is also a movie producer. Mnuchin would head up government borrowing in financial markets. The Senate Finance Committee questioned Mnuchin on his offshore tax havens and multiple companies.

  •      Energy Secretary – Rick Perry

Perry is the former Texas governor and in 2011 proposed abolishing the Energy Department. He will be in charge of maintaining and protecting the U.S.’s nuclear weapons. In his hearing, Perry retracted his earlier statements in which he denied human-caused climate change.

  •      Labor Secretary – Andrew F. Puzder

Puzder is a fast food executive and is most notably opposed to raising the minimum wage. Democrats and labor organizations have intensely opposed Puzder’s nomination.

  •      Agriculture Secretary – Sonny Perdue

Perdue is the former governor of Georgia. This department focuses on America’s farming industry, and Perdue would also assist with some of Trump’s trade goals.

  •      David J. Shulkin – Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Shulkin is a doctor and the current secretary for health at the VA. Shulkin is critical of the Obama administration and claims Obama left veterans forgotten and unsupported.

Cabinet-Level Officials

  •      White House Chief of Staff – Reince Priebus

Priebus is the head of the Republican National Committee. His role will be important with turning many of Trump’s goals into policies.

  •      E.P.A. Administrator – Scott Pruitt

Pruitt is the attorney general of Oklahoma and a supporter of the fossil fuel industry. He is one of the nation’s leading advocates against the E.P.A.. In his hearing, Pruitt said he wanted a more state-oriented approach to environmental regulations, not national enforcements.

  •      Director of the Office of Management and Budget – Mick Mulvaney

Mulvaney is a representative from South Carolina and is known for being a fiscal conservative and eager for big spending cuts. He would focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act, a tax overhaul, and spending on Trump’s sweeping infrastructure overhaul.

  •      U.S. Trade Representative – Robert Lighthizer

Lighthizer is an international trade lawyer and protectionist. He served under President Reagan as a trade official. The U.S. Trade Representative serves the President by recommending and negotiating United States trade policy.

  •      U.N. Ambassador – Nikki R. Haley

Haley is the governor of South Carolina and would represent the U.S. on the U.N. Security Council. Her nomination has not been a contentious debate. In her hearing, Haley noted she believed Russia had committed war crimes in Syria.

  •      Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers – TBA

This position is the leader of a three member committee that analyzes economic growth and changes and assists the President in making economic decisions for the United States. This position is typically filled by someone chosen from academia.

  •      Small Business Administration – Linda McMahon

McMahon is a wrestling entrepreneur, former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment. She will be in charge of helping small business get loans and support.

Other Senior Positions

  •      Senior adviser – Jared Kushner

Kushner is Trump’s son-in-law, married to Ivanka. Kushner is an elusive character and often steers clear of media attention, but has been described as an integral role to the Trump campaign. An interesting interview with Kushner was published in Forbes in December 2016. Kushner almost never speaks to the media and the Forbes interview articulates his crucial, yet seemingly enigmatic, role in the Trump campaign.

  •      Chief Strategist – Steve Bannon

Bannon is a right-wing executive and former head of Breitbart News. Bannon identified Breitbart News as “the platform for the alt-right.” Trump said that Bannon would be “working as equal partners” with Priebus.

  •      National-security adviser – Mike Flynn

Flynn is a retired lieutenant general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. His role focuses on addressing proposals from the State Department and the Pentagon.

  •      Homeland-security adviser – Thomas Bossert

Bossert was a top security aide to George W. Bush and currently runs a risk management consulting firm. His position will be equal to the national security advisor.

  •      Director of National Intelligence – Dan Coats

Coats is the former ambassador to Germany and a senator from Indiana. As Director of National Intelligence, Coats will serve as the head of the Intelligence Community.

  •      C.I.A. Director – Mike Pompeo

Pompeo is a representative from Kansas and former Army officer. Pompeo explained that he would further investigate the Russian interference in the election.

  •      National Trade Council – Peter Navarro

Navarro is an academic economist, and the only one among Trump’s top men and women. He is a critic of the current policies toward China. He will oversee White House trade and industrial policy.

  •      National Economic Council – Gary Cohn

Cohn was the COO and president of Goldman Sachs. Despite Trump’s critiques of Wall Street during the campaign, Cohn is one of three Goldman Sachs executives to join his inner circle.

  •      Regulatory Tsar/Special Adviser on Regulatory Reform – Carl Icahn

Icahn is a billionaire investor and is focused to fulfilling Trump’s promise to decrease regulations on businesses.

  •      Counselor – Kellyanne Conway

Conway is known for her role as Trump’s campaign manager and spokeswoman. It appears Conway will continue this sort of role in the Counselor position.

  •      Public-liaison adviser – Anthony Scaramucci

Scaramucci is the founder of the investment firm SkyBridge Capital. Scaramucci will head up trying to convince the United States business community the benefits of investing in Trump’s agenda.

  •      White House Counsel – Donald F. McGahn II

McGahn is a lawyer in Washington and will have a critical role in advising the president on his many legal matters.

  •      Press Secretary and Special Assistant to the President – Sean Spicer

Spicer was the spokesman for the Republican National Party and also served Priebus as an aide. Spicer will be the direct liaison between the media and the White House.

For reference, these are the steps to becoming a cabinet member:

  • Person is nominated by the president-elect.
  • Nominee has a senate hearing in front of relevant senate committees.
  • Nominee is voted out of the committee if the majority of the committee votes for the nominee. The vote then goes to the Senate floor.
  • Nominee is confirmed by Senate in floor vote.

For the sake of brevity, NPR posted a list about which stage each of Trump’s nominees are currently in. In the next few weeks, we should see nominees in senate hearings and being voted on by committees. Some of Trump’s most contentious candidates – Betsy DeVos, Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Andy Pudzer and Steve Mnuchin – are definitely cases to pay attention to.

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