On Tuesday, July 3rd, Trump made yet another racially divisive move against Americans of color by rescinding twenty four Obama-Era federal guidelines, part of an ongoing review.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Trump officials have reverted to using guidelines last implemented during the George W. Bush administration and rejected Obama administration guidelines that simply take a student’s race into consideration when attempting to diversify a school’s predominantly white population. The changes not only hinder American students, but of the 24 guidelines voided some focused on the rights of refugees and asylums in regards to their employment and federal protection against potential discrimination based on national origin.
Supporters of affirmative action are appalled by the gesture. Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Education Secretary for Civil Rights under Obama and current Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights stated, “This is the clearest sign we’ve had about where this administration stands. The Supreme Court has been consistent over decades in its rulings on lawful use of race in affirmative action, and the guidance the Trump administration rescinds today offered nothing more than a clear and practical statement of the law and how to comply with it,” Lhamon said. “Taking away that guidance undermines the steps toward equity school communities have long been taking.”
In support of Trump’s actions, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a statement indicating the move was protecting public awareness of policy change stating the guidelines removed “imposed new rules on Americans people without any public notice or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance document on a website”. One could argue that the rules in question coincidentally happen to directly impact minorities and immigrants.
Although it is unclear whether the bold step will impact how schools and colleges conduct their admissions selection process, there is much to be considered in the timing of such efforts coincides with a lawsuit taking headway in Massachusetts federal court alleging Harvard University practiced discrimination in 2015 when deciding on admittance of a number of Asian American students. While there are numerous references of this administration’s action against liberal legislation, standouts include Trump’s position on members of the LGBTQI population serving in the armed forces, voter identification stipulations in Texas and investigating schools that employ affirmative action.
Vanita Gupta, president and chief executive officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, plainly stated,
“In furtherance of its agenda of intolerance and discrimination, the Trump administration is once again failing in its responsibility for the well-being of all students by tossing aside diversity and inclusion — core American values…The reported actions come as the Department of Justice appears ready to tee up a challenge to lawful race-conscious admissions or affirmative action programs,” she said. “Although today’s action does not change any laws, it sends a clear signal that Atty. Gen. Sessions and Secretary DeVos are advancing a vision of America that is particularly hostile to students of color, but that will impact all students.”