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Garbageville Week 4: The Crackdown Begins

We sift through President Trump's words and actions and figure out what important and what's not.

Welcome to the end of Trump's first month in office. Good news: You're still here. Bad news: You're still here. And with crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, the return of the travel ban, a presidential visit to a museum honoring the sacrifices of black Americans through history, a revision (i.e., the removal) of guidelines intended to protect transgender kids, and a major chicken joint being sold to America's third-best burger place, it's a rough road ahead for us all.

Immigration crackdown

On Monday, the Secretary of Homeland Security issued a memo outlining how the government will implement President Trump's executive orders on immigration.

Should I pay attention to this?

Yes. The biggest change that this DHS memo makes is to dramatically expand the class of undocumented immigrants prioritized for deportation. While the Obama administration prioritized only those who had been convicted of serious crimes, this new memo makes anyone who has ever been charged with any crime, no matter how minor, a priority for deportation. Since being an undocumented immigrant is technically a crime, this means that all of these individuals are marked as priorities for deportation.

The memo also ramps up the amount of money devoted to immigration enforcement, revives programs that deputize local law enforcement to help enforce immigration laws, and proposes that those who illegally cross the Mexican/American border be deported back to Mexico, even if that's not their country of origin.

Two fears, though, have not yet been realized. While a leaked earlier draft of this memo said that the National Guard would be employed in deporting the undocumented, this was left out of the final draft. Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protected those who had illegally entered the United States as minors from deportation and offered them temporary work permits, remains in place — for now.

There are a lot of moving pieces, but the upshot is that President Trump has laid the groundwork for mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, not just “bad hombres.” The truth is that Trump almost has to expand the scope of deportation in order to meet his own campaign promises. Obama's aggressive prioritization of criminals for deportation means that there might not be enough of them to deport to appease Trump's base.

Donald Trump’s nods to minorities

Donald Trump visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Tuesday. In his remarks afterward, he condemned anti-Semitism, saying that it “has to stop.”

Should I pay attention to this?

No. Donald Trump's remarks after his visit to the NMAAHC were typically Trumpian, which is to say that they were imprecise, delivered off the cuff, and lacked deeper meaning. The fact that they were delivered at all signals that Trump is aware of and wanted to address the accusations of anti-Semitism and anti-black racism made against him without implicating himself in fostering the environment in which they flourish. That Trump visited the museum and was apparently moved by it is good, but has no practical upshot.

Revised travel ban

The Trump administration's controversial travel ban, rejected by the courts, is being revised and redrafted. Originally it was supposed to come this week, but it's apparently been delayed.

Should I pay attention to this?

Keep an eye on it. The most likely result of the courts knocking down Trump's travel ban is a new executive order that would attempt to accomplish the same thing while addressing the court's objections that the ban was discriminatory. Stephen Miller said in a town hall meeting on Monday that the changes to the new executive order would be “minor” and “technical,” a perhaps unwise comment that could backfire by giving the courts ammunition to kill the ban. The Trump administration might be trying to get around allegations that the original ban was discriminatory by widening its scope.

Transgender protections withdrawn — for now

In 2016, the Justice Department issued guidance to protect transgender students in public schools, which included making sure students could use the bathroom or locker room that fit their gender identity, be referred to using the correct name and pronoun, and have their privacy protected. On Wednesday night, the Trump DOJ under Jeff Sessions withdrew that guidance, declaring that the issue required “further consideration,” and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer followed up on Thursday by saying that the rights of transgender students were a “states' rights” issue (unlike marijuana, of course.)

Should I pay attention to this?

Yes. Technically, transgender students are still protected under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a fact that both the Department of Education and the Department of Justice alluded to in their “dear colleague” letter (which explains the new policy to the public). Cities like New York have already pledged to keep existing protections in place, but that still leaves transgender kids in rural communities and small towns in the lurch.

But that's not even the biggest part of the story. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next month in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., a case centered around Gavin Grimm, a transgender teen boy who was prevented from using the men's bathroom at his Virginia high school. That case could change how schools and school boards treat transgender students across the country. For now, the White House's “withdrawal” of guidance is more confusing than concrete, especially if you're a kid just trying to go to the goddang bathroom.