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 First Week (and a half) in Executive Orders

This past week and a half has been a complete mess in the realm of politics and social justice. I am in no way saying, however, that the U.S. was the standard of justice before, because it certainly has never been close. That aside, if you decided that your best form of self care was to take a break from the news for a while, here’s a short recap of the executive orders signed by DJT in his first week and a half as president, to help catch you up on what’s going on!

Executive Order 1:

The official title of this order is Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal. Signed on January 20th, this mouthful is Trump’s first step in his attempts to repeal the ACA, or Obamacare. While this order does not give any framework for how this is to be done, or the new healthcare system that Trump plans to implement, it does start the process by which he wishes to allow healthcare providers to compete for their customers in an open market.

Executive Order 2:

The order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects was signed on January 24th. This order expedites the reviewal process for any infrastructure process deemed “high priority” to 30 days, within which timeframe the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Equality must give a decision about the implementation of the project. If a project is indeed decided to classify as high priority, deadlines must also be constructed for the completion of the infrastructural project. Some of the projects listed as fitting this description of beneficial infrastructure were airports, bridges, highways, and least surprising of all, pipelines.

Executive Order 3:

This order, called Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the U.S., was released on January 25th. Here Trump states that “aliens”, including those who overstay their visas, pose a problem to the safety of American citizens, especially those who engage in criminal activity. In this act, he directs that 10,000 more immigration officers be hired, and gives state and local law enforcement agencies the power to act as immigration officers where they see fit. In addition, a weekly report will be issued, chronicling all the crimes of illegal immigrants.

Executive Order 4:

On January 25th as well, the Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements order was signed, stating that law enforcement agencies along the Mexico/U.S. border should take whatever lawful actions necessary to secure the border. Included among the actions deemed necessary is the construction of a wall along the border, with the planning and implementation of such to begin immediately, as is the procuring of funds for this project. This order also directs the hiring of an additional 5,000 Border Patrol officers, and reiterates the permission that state and local agencies have to act as immigration officers.

Executive Order 5:

Two days later, another order was issued, this one called Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. In the opening paragraphs of this order, it says that the United States must not allow entry to people who “engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own), or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.” In addition, this order states that visas and other benefits to “countries of national concern” will be invalid for at least 90 days. These countries are Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Iran, and Somalia. Green card holders, while not mentioned in this order, have also been affected. In addition, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is to be suspended for 120 days while it is reviewed, and upon reinstatement, priority will be given to those seeking asylum for religious persecution. Syrian refugees are called “detrimental” to the interests of the United States, and are not permitted to enter the country indefinitely. Over 5,000 refugees per year will be considered a financial burden, and thus greater than that will not be allowed.

Executive Order 6:

This order, called the Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees, was issued on January 28th. In summary, this order limits the lobbying abilities of any employee of the executive office for 5 years after the end of their employment. It also limits the communications that former employees are allowed to have with current employees in their department.

Executive Order 7:

The executive order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs was signed on January 30th. It begins by stating that for every regulation implemented, two must be rescinded, and thus making the net costs of new regulations zero. Any additional costs that must be incurred are subject to additional approval, which could slow the implementation process.

While this may seem like a lot to take in, this doesn’t even begin to cover the other executive actions that Mr. Trump has issued so far, which include eleven memorandums and one proclamation. The memoranda are basically executive orders that don’t require the heavy documentation of an executive order, yet still carry the weight of the law. Proclamations are not binding as law, but merely strong suggestions. If you’d like to look further into these, the White House’s official website has all the executive actions and their exact texts. 

This article was edited for clarity at 5:26 p.m. on 2/8/17.

Existence is Resistance

This article was originally written following the presidential election of 2016. It has been re-published here due to its present relevance. 

 

The Results

Three women sit cross-legged on the floor of a 6×10 dorm room in Ehringhaus Residence Hall on UNC-Chapel Hill’s south campus. They eagerly watch a laptop screen, eyes glued to the interactive electoral map on CNN. As the numbers begin to roll in, their excitement quickly turns to dread. It slowly becomes clear the outcome they envisioned for Nov. 8, 2016 will not be realized.

Once the final results are called, time stops.

Donald J. Trump will be the 45th president of the United States of America. Reality sinks in.

The friends embrace one another as shocked sobs roll through their bodies. Shouts of victory reverberate from the adjacent room, confirming their fears.

How fitting, sophomore Laura Duque thought. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump supporters literally divided by a concrete wall.

“In the one room, there was us, the Latinas, and in the next room there were Trump supporters,” she said. “Us crying in the one room, and the Trump supporters cheering in the next room.”

Duque, her sister and her friend sat together for hours. Slowly watching as the votes came in, state by state.

“It felt like when you’re at the top of a rollercoaster just counting the seconds before the big drop,” first-year Caroline Duque, Duque’s sister, said.

Duque, a *Latinx activist at UNC-CH as co-chair of Students United for Immigration Equality (SUIE), a Campus Y committee, isn’t alone.

Since President-Elect Donald Trump won, defeating former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College by 74 votes, on Tuesday, Nov. 8, many Americans have taken to social media, the streets and college campuses to express shock, outrage and terror over the president-elect’s victory.

Walking Out

The next day, Duque didn’t hesitate. As an activist, she said she felt compelled to do something. When the Campus Y, UNC-CH’s center for social justice, organized a campus wide walkout that Wednesday to provide students with a space to tell their stories and express their emotions following the election, Duque chose to participate.

“Safe space.”

These two words echo across the quad at 2:00 p.m. A promise for those who speak. A microphone stand sits in front of South Building.

If today were an ordinary Wednesday, most of this crowd would be in class. But, for many students, today is far from ordinary.

“After the election, I expected the whole world to stop,” Duque said.

But, despite feelings of anxiety and fear, she kept going and immediately took action.

Hundreds of students, faculty and community members of all races, ethnicities and gender identities, fill the space. Some hug one another, link arms. Others cry and wipe away tears.

A long line of a diverse group of students snakes around South Building to the front of the Campus Y.

“Regan and I woke up on Nov. 9 and felt like the campus should have a chance to voice their upset, fears and worries—a kind of catharsis,” Lauren Eaves, co-president for the Campus Y, said.

Duque stands in line, readying herself to talk in front of the vast crowd before her. Her body shakes as she meticulously recites lines in her mind. She hates public speaking.

“In that moment, I didn’t even look at the crowd,” she said. “Everything went blank, and I just wanted everyone to hear me. When else was I going to have this opportunity?”

After listening to two students share their stories, she slowly, hesitantly approaches the microphone. Tears stream down her face as her friend rubs her back. She speaks of her father.

“All he could say last night was ‘te amo’,” she says through broken sobs.

“I love you” in Spanish.

“I was terrified and really emotional,” she said. “But there was something within me that said you have to go out there. The little activist in me was like ‘you have to go’.”

“When Laura spoke, I felt so proud of her for sharing her personal story with so many people,” Campus Y co-president Regan Buchanan said. “And I felt deeply angered and saddened that she had to experience so much fear because of our nation’s failures.”

Afraid

Duque is one of countless Latinx students at UNC-CH who fear that a Trump administration will inflict violence on their communities. Trump has advocated for a wall between the U.S.’s and Mexico’s border, as well as mass deportation of immigrants and elimination of sanctuary cities and campuses that aim to protect undocumented folks from being deported.

“It’s no longer just about political affiliations,” Duque said. “This is a person who tolerates and advocates for hate.”

A few weeks ago, Duque visited her home in Durham, North Carolina. After dinner one night, she went outside. Looking ahead, she immediately froze.

“I’m just there, taking out the trash, and I see them,” she said.

Two white neighbors, a woman and a man wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, casually jog by, laughing.

“That is scary,” she said. “I automatically felt unsafe.”

She wonders how Trump will “Make America Great Again.” More like, “Make America Hate Again.”

Growing Up

Duque’s family immigrated to the United States from Cali, Colombia when she was 10-years-old. She’s lived from coast to coast—in Georgia, California and, now, North Carolina.

“I cried a lot the week before we left Cali because I knew everything would change,” Duque said. “I’d never been outside the country. It was a huge culture shock.”

Elementary school is hard enough without having to learn through a language barrier and taunting from students for being different.

“To this day, even the smell of elementary school floors makes me cringe,” Duque said. “I automatically think about the kids who called me weird or dumb for not knowing how to speak English.”

Her story is one of relative privilege—a narrative not often told when pundits and politicians discuss this prevalent political issue. Her parents moved her and her younger sisters to the U.S. to pursue master’s degrees about a decade ago.

Duque’s family came from an upper middle class background, allowing them to have resources needed to apply get an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, a costly process. Then, an appointment is selected and one has to let the embassy know why they wish to immigrate. Thankfully, her parents were both educated, wanted to pursue higher education and therefore were able to obtain their visas.

“I didn’t really understand my own privilege and what that meant,” Duque said. “The fact that I was able to come here under the circumstances that I did is quite a privilege because not a lot of people get to do that.”

This perspective has challenged her to recognize how others’ walks of life differ from her own.

“It’s not fair that just because my parents came from privileged background, they had the chance to come here safely, but other people don’t,” Duque said.

An Intricate System

Immigration is complex, she says. No single story can encompass 11.4 million currently undocumented immigrants living in a country.

“Growing up here, I’ve met a lot of people whose families had come here without documents because they were fleeing violence or drug cartels,” Duque said. “There were no job opportunities for them—the poverty level was really high in their countries. I knew that I had to talk about this because not a lot of people know about the immigration system and how it works.”

Although Duque has a green card and is a permanent resident, an obtained status that involved a long, arduous process, which spanned a total of three years, she is not yet a full citizen. In five years, she will be eligible to take the United States citizenship test. And that comes with a cost.

“Because I’m not a citizen, I can’t vote,” Duque says. “I had no influence or control over this election that will have a complete influence over my, my family’s and my friends’ lives.”

According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, 13.3 million permanent residents live in the U.S. Duque is one of these Americans.

Being a permanent resident allows Duque and her family to live, attend school and work in the United States without immediate repercussions. However, this status does not guarantee complete safety.

“If you commit certain crimes or security violations, or even fail to advise USCIS of your changes of address, you can be placed in removal proceedings and deported from the United States,” according to AllLaw.com.

A lack of security and feelings of discrimination motivated Duque to become involved with organizing efforts on campus her first year.

“I didn’t choose activism, it just kind of happened,” Duque said. “I’ve always felt discriminated against. Whenever my parents and I would go out, because they speak broken English, I’d feel embarrassed because I would have to translate for them and people would always look at us like we weren’t normal. They were treated like crap.”

“I felt like the xenophobia was in the air,” she said. “I had to do something about this.”

Moving Forward

Following Trump’s win, activists like Duque are forced to grapple with many questions. How do groups create change under this administration? With a hostile political climate and hate crimes against people of color on the rise, what happens next?

These worries are at the forefront of Duque’s mind. As an immigrant and activist Latina woman, though, Duque remains determined and steadfast to protect her community.

After the election, SUIE immediately went into planning mode.

“First, we’re going to recognize that Trump is not our president and will never be our president,” Duque said.

“The side that won basically told us that we are less than human, and we’re not going to stand for it,” Duque said. “We’re definitely going to take a defensive approach.”

“She always wants to do more and more with SUIE, and I admire that about her,” Diana Marquez, Duque’s SUIE co-chair, said.

The day after Trump’s inauguration, the organization is planning an event in the Pit called “Pie Trump.”

Students will be encouraged to throw a pie at a cutout of Trump’s face. During the event, SUIE will collect donations for a scholarship fund for undocumented students.

“I also want to display immigrants’ stories all over campus,” Duque said. “We have an idea to put shoes all over the Pit to tell immigrant stories.”

“I want people to understand what it’s like to live in an immigrant’s shoes,” Marquez said.

SUIE will also hold a panel of immigration lawyers for the community and students to voice concerns and ask questions.

The plan is to provide folks with resources and preparation just in case for the worst, Duque said.

“This is a really scary time for a lot of immigrants in this country,” Duque said.

Hate and Hope

The vast building looms in front of her. Its history, tradition and power causes her to catch her breath.

The White House.

Duque was there for a World AIDS Day event as part of her campus organizing work with Advocates for Youth, a sexual health nonprofit.

After walking through airport-like security, her two friends are given green passes with silver chains to wear around their necks, displaying their names and photos. Duque’s pass is pink. Her stomach drops.

“Oh wow,” she thought. “Everyone know my status now. Everyone knows that I’m not a citizen.”

A secret service officer peppers her with questions and commands.

“Okay,” he said. “You can all go in except for you.”

He points at Duque.

“You need to be personally escorted into the White House,” he tells her.

Her friends try to defend her. “Why can’t she go with us?” they ask.

“This is between her and the White House,” he said.

His cold demeanor washes over Duque.

“He stared at us like we were nothing,” she said. “It was like ‘what are you doing here?’”

Trump’s America, Duque thought.

Eventually, Duque is able to call a point of contact at Advocates for Youth. It was worth the wait. She heard countless stories from activists that inspired her.

“We’ve done a lot during this administration,” she said. “If we were able to do that, that shows me that even though there’s still a lot of work to do, there’s a lot of people who are willing to do it. That gives me hope.”

Hope may seem futile during this time. But Duque says she’ll continue to fight in this movement and embrace her identities.

“Even existence is resistance,” she said.

 
*Latinx is commonly used in this community in order to represent gender inclusivity.

Campus Y Co- Presidents Forum Recap

On Wednesday evening, the candidates running for Campus Y Co-Presidents participated in a forum. The candidates were asked questions, both separately and collectively, about their platform, understanding of social justice, and where they want to take the Campus Y.

Asha Patel and Nick McKenzie are both sophomores who have been involved with the Y since their first year. McKenzie currently holds leadership positions in Nourish-UNC, Hope Gardens, and Carolina Empowerment Fund. Asha currently serves as a co-chair for Hunger Lunch, a venture within Nourish-UNC.

“I think it’s important for a leader to be able to connect to every single person that they interact with and other people working with you,” Patel said.

Running against Patel and McKenzie are Alexander Peeples and Courtney Staton. Peeples is a junior and currently serves as the Co-Director of Development on the Campus Y exec board. Staton is a sophomore and is currently a co-chair of Criminal Justice Awareness and Action.

“Social justice is showing up everyday and not continuing the oppression of other people,” Peeples said.

The forum began with each duo given two minutes to introduce themselves. Then they were asked a variety of questions and given either a minute per person to answer or minute as a duo to answer. For the most part, candidates did well within these time limits.

When asked what would they focus on if they could only accomplish two big goals as co-presidents, Patel and McKenzie said their focus would be on outreach and engagement with as many communities on UNC’s campus as possible. They also wanted to focus on getting more people to be involved with issues in Chapel Hill and municipal elections.

“It’s really powerful that we make sure there’s a larger education component of the Y especially in terms of local elections. We know that it’s going to be a huge issue coming up nationally…,” McKenzie said.

Peeples and Staton believe that the Campus Y has a crucial role in terms of campus activism and said their goal is to continue that role and expand it. They want to make sure the Campus Y provides resources to everyone for greater social good and never tries to take over voices.

“The Campus Y is supposed to be the place where activists across issues can come together and realize how they’re all interconnected and we want the Campus Y to continue to serve as that,” Staton said.

While all candidates had similar views on some things like the Y’s commitment to social justice or the transparency needed between the executive board and committees, other issues caused some tension.

During the audience question and answer session, McKenzie was asked about how he referred to people of color as “colored people” during a previous answer. He also was questioned how he planned to balance his personal political beliefs with the Campus Y given that public records indicate that he voted in the Republican primaries. Specifically, an audience member referenced past and recent legislature the Republican Party has passed that has been damaging to a number of social justice causes.

Both McKenzie and Peeples were asked by the audience how they were planning to self-reflect on their privileges as white males. Neither Patel or Staton were asked about their identities and how it would influence their leadership.

Voting for the Campus Y Co-Presidents will take place on Tuesday February 7th from 9 am to 5 pm. Voting is restricted to registered members of the Campus Y only. If you have any questions about whether or not you are a registered member, email CampusY.unc@gmail.com

You can learn more about Asha and Nick’s platform here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_tJ-HA1DNHXQ1lHSkdLOXV4Q0k/view

You can learn more about Alexander and Courtney’s platform here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B322ptORbby1U0VsbzNya3N2V2c/view

Obama’s Legacy

When my parents first moved from South Africa to the United States, they told me they had now opened up “a world of opportunities” for my brother and I. A phrase that just sounded like sweet nothings until November 4th, 2008 when for the first time, a man whose skin tone resembled my own, was elected to the highest office in the United States of America. I took for granted back then how impactful growing up in an America that was governed by the first black president would be, but now as his days are winding down, I am realizing just how much the legacy of Barack Obama and his beautiful family has inspired me to know the world of opportunities that my parents opened for me when they hauled us from South Africa to the United States.

Tears rolled down my eyes as I listened to our First Lady, Michelle Obama, condemn Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. “America is already great!!” she exclaimed, “In what other country could a man born to a Kenyan immigrant work his way to Harvard and then to Senate and now to the presidency!” Those words hit me like a train. As a child born to an immigrant family, I realized the doors that the Obama family had shown me were possible for me. Doors that my parents knew were there for me but were visualized in seeing President Obama sit at that oval office for 8 years.

The most formative years of my life were spent watching a family that looked like mine living in the White House. I saw the President of the United States, arguably the most powerful man in the world, STILL have to combat racism at every corner, a struggle that the black man knows all too well; but yet he still persevered and succeeded. Through the years, I’ve realized that if the President of the United States still has to fight racism, then I definitely will too. But just like President Obama, I will not let it stop me from my dream; and once I reach my dream, I will not let racism define the position that I’m in. I will do what I’m called to do in the best way that I can – just as President Obama has.

President Obama is not just inspiring to me because he is black. He is also the epitome of grace and elegance. As FLOTUS always says “when they go high, we go low” and they have embodied this through every racial slur thrown at them, every lie uttered about their family, every time their ability to lead is undermined, President Obama and his family respond with class and respect. I look up to both the POTUS and the FLOTUS so much, not only in giving me hopes about my career prospect, but also in the type of person I desire to be: A person of grace and elegance, just like the first family.

Now What?

If you’re like me, you’ve only gotten angrier since the inauguration. I honestly feel like for each day that goes by, my anger level increase tenfold. Sometimes I feel like maybe that’s not such a good thing, but I’m hoping that the anger that is still fueling me after I watch the news will be what keeps up my motivation to fight the system. I don’t want to become complacent with what is happening around me, especially after so many women marched on Saturday.

So let’s revisit that march to remind us why we should stay angry.

The March

“CHANGE, REPRESENTATION, RIGHTS ACCESS, ERADICATION OF MEN, UNDERSTANDING, SHATTERING PATRIARCHY, EMPATHY… just kidding. That would be ideal… Hopefully a sense of seriousness.” Senior Abigail Parlier says about what she hoped the implications of the international women’s marches. She was there amongst a group of strong Tar Heel women who decided to go to Raleigh. The disappointment she felt about the majority white crowd has also been a subject of criticism when the rose-colored glasses came off Sunday. She was also critical to bring up that the march was not just about women’s rights, but it was  “a whole conglomeration of things that feminism really represents…. And that we reduced women to a vagina (even though vaginas rock) but not all women have them.”

So now what do we do to make sure that the problematic issues at the march are addressed and that the momentum doesn’t die?

Call Your senators.

Senator Thom Tillis (R)

  • Washington DC Office: 202-224-6342
  • Charlotte Office: 704-509-9087
  • Greenville Office: 252-329-0371
  • Hendersonville Office: 828-693-8750
  • High Point Office: 336-885-0685
  • Raleigh Office: 919-856-4630

Senator Richard Burr (R)

  • Washington DC Office: 202-224-3154
  • Asheville Office: 828-350-2437
  • Rocky Mount Office: 252-977-9522
  • Winston-Salem Office: 800-685-8916

Call Your Representatives

George “GK” Butterfield Jr.  (D) – 1st district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-3101
  • Durham Office: 919-908-0164
  • Wilson Office: 252-237-9816

George Holding (R) – 2nd district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-3032
  • Raleigh Office: 919-782-4400

Walter Jones Jr. (R) – 3rd district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-3415
  • Greenville Office: 252-931-1003
  • Havelock Office: 252-555-6846
  • Jacksonville Office: 252-555-6846

David Price (D) – 4th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-1784
  • Raleigh Office: 919-859-5999
  • Western District Office: 919-967-7924

Virginia Foxx (R) – 5th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-2071
  • Boone Office: 828-265-0240
  • Clemmons Office: 226-778-0211

Mark Walker (R) – 6th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-3065
  • Graham Office: 226-229-0159
  • Greensboro Office: 226-222-5005

David Rouzer (R) – 7th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-2731
  • Brunswick County Office: 910-253-6111
  • Johnston County Office: 919-938-3040
  • New Hanover County Office: 910-395-0202

Richard Hudson (R) – 8th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-3715
  • Concord Office: 704-786-1004
  • Fayetteville Office: 910-997-2071

Robert Pittenger (R) – 9th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-1976
  • Charlotte Office: 704-362-1060
  • Fayetteville Office: 910-303-0669
  • Monroe Office: 704-917-9573

Patrick McHenry (R) – 10th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-2576
  • Hickory Office: 828-327-6100
  • Gastonia Office: 704-833-0096
  • Black Mountain Office: 828-669-0600

Mark Meadows (R) – 11th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-6401
  • Henderson County Office: 828-693-5603

Alma Adams (D) – 12th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-1510
  • Charlotte Office: 704-344-9950

Ted Budd (R) – 13th district

  • Washington DC Office: 202-225-4531
  • Advance Office: no number listed
  • Mooresville Office: no number listed

NEXT TIME YOU CAN VOTE:

November 6, 2018 General mid-term elections

What happens? All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested. Also, 39 state and territorial governorships will be contested.

Follow the Women’s March 10 Actions/100 Days

The official website of the Women’s March has a campaign for 10 organized actions to occur over Trump’s first 100 days in office.  Imagine just how effective this is going to be when the same millions of women who marched (and those who couldn’t march) continue to be active.

My Closing Remarks

Mostly, stay angry. Stay angry and nasty. If you stay angry and stay aware of what is going on with the Trump administration, you are more likely to take more action. I know it took this orange fire lit under some asses of some women to make them realize just how big of a deal this was, and they took to the streets. I was surprised at some of the people I saw who attended marches…. Now lets keep the momentum going. Don’t turn off technology or separate yourself from Facebook because your racist uncle keeps commenting on your status and your other racist cousin keeps sharing pro-Trump/anti-feminist memes… embrace what you’re seeing and let it remind you why you’re fighting. Let it be the fuel that drives you to make this world a better place. It is better to be aware of the atrocities happening so that you know what to fight.

The Affordable Care Act vs. Trump Presidency: Will He Succeed?

The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and then signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23rd, 2010. The act, also known as Obamacare, has had its ups and downs over the past 4 years as it faced heavy opposition from the Republican party. However Obamacare, despite its rocky start, has improved the lives of many and has succeeded in its initial goal, which was to reduce the number of uninsured citizens. According to the Washington Post, in comparison to 2013, there are over 8.8 million insured individuals, dropping the rate of the uninsured from 13.3% to below 10%. This, however, is not enough to keep President Trump from repealing (or at least trying to) Obamacare.

According to CNN, both President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said that repealing and replacing Obamacare is a legislative priority. In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, Trump repeats just that, claiming that his new plan would offer greater health care for less money. Is this true? Does Trump have concrete plans, or is he just misleading the public in order to repeal the act that has helped millions? That is the questions most Americans are asking.

So far, both the senate and the House have passed measures that aim to remove the penalty for not having health insurance and the mechanics of providing subsidies to qualified families and individuals to help reduce the cost of a health plans. Legislators are currently floating proposals that would replace Obamacare, going for the “replace-then-repeal” approach. But can they come up with something better? Although Obamacare has done little to reduce the overall cost of health insurance, it has allowed qualified families and individuals with insurance they would not be able to afford otherwise. It has ensured that people with pre-existing conditions are still able to get insured and treated without paying enormous out-of-pocket costs. Pleading families and individuals have taken to the internet in order to voice their concerns about the repeal. Countless of individuals on Twitter and other social media platforms have posted pictures of their insurance and medical bills, highlighting how much lower their costs are because of Obamacare. The public is fighting back, but will it be enough to stop Trump in his tracks?

The next few months are crucial, as they will determine whether the Trump administration will simply reform the ACA, or repeal it entirely and start fresh. Trump has proven himself a detriment, already removing the Civil Rights and the LGBTQ pages from the White House website and halting a reduction to the annual mortgage insurance premiums. Will the complete removal of Obamacare be next on his list?

 

Further Readings:

The Success of the Affordable Care Act is a Hugely Inconvenient Truth for its Opponents

US Patients Await Obamacare’s Fate

What to Know About the Future of Obamacare

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.

The Women’s March 2017: An Improvement, Not a Final Achievement

By Sunday morning, the Women’s March 2017 had a Wikipedia page. It became a historic event, with people all over the world marching in response to the inauguration of Donald J. Trump and the threat to various progressive values that it meant. Although, it should be noted that the march was framed as pro-woman generally, focused on intersectional feminism rather than being solely anti-Trump. The photos depicting the hundreds of marches from every continent left me in awe. Responses from many UNC students who travelled to D.C., or any of the other sister marches across the country described the gatherings as moving, inspiring, a sense of true solidarity. But amidst the celebration of successfully spurring a worldwide phenomenon, there have also been many voices decrying the hypocrisy and perpetuating division associated with the feminist movement.

I have heard so many different opinions about the march, and the feminist movement in general during the last few days. I will not denounce the march, but I won’t call it a total success either. I am proud to have marched in Asheville, and I am proud of my friends who travelled all over to march too. It is important that we discuss how the march succeeded, but also how it failed.

The actual messages of the organizers of the march and those who spoke were beautiful and inclusive. America Ferrera gave a powerful speech reminding everyone that the US is made up of far more than the people who voted for the current government: “The president is not America. His cabinet is not America. Congress is not America. We are America. And we are here to stay. We will not go from being a nation of immigrants to a nation of ignorance.” Janelle Monae began the chant “Sandra Bland! Say her name!,” joined by the “Mothers of the Movement.” One UNC student I spoke to who travelled to D.C., said that she thought that the most poignant words were from Tamika Mallory: “Welcome to my world, welcome to our world … for some of you it is new, for some of us it is not so new at all.” In other words, for all the women there who suddenly felt oppressed by the election of a man who has spewed such blatantly sexist rhetoric, remember how long women of colour have dealt with far worse struggles.

Despite such intersectional messages and reminders, there can be no denying that many women did not feel motivated to participate because of their long sense of alienation from the feminist movement. As Jenna Wortham of the New York Times Magazine put it, “who didn’t go to the women’s march matters more than who did.” We have to take note of why many women felt that a march, framed as representing all women, did not actually represent them. One of the most frequently shared images from the march was of a woman holding a sign saying, “don’t forget white women voted for Trump.” It’s true; 53% of white women did vote for Trump and 94% of black women voted for Hillary Clinton. Black women “show up for white women to advance causes that benefit entire movements; the reciprocity is rarely shown.”

It is severely problematic that many many women of colour do not feel included in the feminist movement and as the results of this election demonstrated, many white women value their racial privilege above seeking gender equality. Finally, there also needs to be a much larger push to include transgender women in conversations about gender equality. Many people felt that the emphasis on symbols of vaginas, uteruses and ovaries excluded transgender women. Cis women need to acknowledge that the fight for gender equality extends far beyond their day-to-day interactions with sexism, and transgender women are currently fighting for basic rights and freedoms.  

White women need to realise that their cause is much stronger if they treat minority and transgender women as true sisters and embrace the beautiful notion of intersectional feminism for ALL women. Most feminists in theory agree that women of colour and transgender women should be welcomed, but they must be more active in pursuing those beliefs.

Another UNC student I spoke to said that she was disappointed that the turnout of people was not more intersectional. However, she hoped that the speakers emphasizing an inclusionary message was an indication that in the future, it would be more likely for women of all different backgrounds to stand together.

I loved that there was one mass response to the divisiveness and hatred that Trump used to win the election. However, those women need to open their arms and be more outspoken about their support for the women and men fighting for Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, refugee rights, immigrant rights and disability rights. I think this march was a step towards improvement, not necessarily an accomplishment in itself. We should acknowledge how wonderful such a massive, peaceful demonstration is, but also realize that it shouldn’t be enough. I hope that it is a sign that women will acknowledge one another’s differences and varying priorities and stand up for one another and all social justice causes together. 

 

Edited for clarity on 1/25/17 at 12:00pm.

I Stand With Planned Parenthood

Since its inception over 100 years ago, Planned Parenthood has been a consistent and accessible source of vital healthcare for millions of people, including women, men, trans people, and gender non-conforming folks. On October 16th, 1916, the nationwide healthcare group opened its doors. Ever since then, anti-abortion activists and the Grand Old Party have tried to seal them shut.

In 2015, Republicans nearly shut down the federal government by threatening to defund Planned Parenthood over doctored videos alleging illegal activities, which were ultimately ruled false.

Unsurprisingly, the GOP used similar tactics when they recently unleashed a vicious attack on Planned Parenthood by describing future plans to take away funds allocated for the group. On Thursday January 5th, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said defunding the extremely popular group, which Americans support funding for 2 to 1, will be included within the GOP’s attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

According to the organization, which has offices in all 50 states, an estimated 2.5 million individuals rely on Planned Parenthood for fundamental healthcare and services, including: family planning, birth control, abortion, pre- and post-natal care, STD testing, and cancer screenings, to name some.

Additionally, 1 in 5 women will rely on Planned Parenthood for reproductive healthcare throughout their lifetimes. Clearly, these statistics are staggering and illustrate the organization’s vital role in American society.

Cutting off women’s access to healthcare, specifically access to reproductive services, is oppressive. When women are stripped of their bodily autonomy, those in power effectively limit or erase women’s ability to determine their life’s path.

Coupled with the gutting of the ACA, as well as threats to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding and Medicaid reimbursements, millions of Americans will soon be left without healthcare if Republicans continue these damaging attacks, which all signs strongly point to.

Despite their rhetoric of “fixing a broken system,” it is clear that Trump, Ryan, and the rest of the GOP are simply interested in and committed to ripping healthcare away from people who need it most.

On Saturday, millions of protestors marched for women’s rights, many in support of reproductive justice. I, like countless other Americans, am tired of conservative politicians and activist vilifying this incredible, compassionate organization.

Throughout our lives, we’re constantly taught that America is The Land of the Free. A place supposedly built on values of equality, justice, and liberty. But until all people are able to obtain quality, affordable, and easily accessible healthcare, none of us will be free.

Views shared on the blog are not necessarily those of the Campus Y as a whole, but those of the bloggers.