As soon as they entered office, the Trump administration immediately got busy pumping out legislation on everything from immigration to financial regulation. With new White House press releases, executive orders(and the protests incited by said orders) seeming to be in the news everyday, along with the rumors of laws could potentially get passed, it can be hard to understand and keep up with everything that’s actually happening. So, here is a break-down of everything that the Trump Administration has done, so far, in their first two weeks.
Trump’s first executive action in office was to change immigration policy, and add agents to the Enforcement and Removal office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency . The U.S. already detains more than four hundred thousand people a year in over two hundred detention centers around the country. There, immigrants, including children, are subjected to conditions of confinement, denied access to medical care, legal counsel and family contact. More than 150 people have died in these centers(sixty two percent of which are privately owned) since 2003. In the past many of these people were allowed to stay in the U.S. on their own and wait for either an asylum interview, or a court date to determine residency status. However, the new order that was enacted requires all unauthorized immigrants to be detained. The administration also expanded the prioritized deportation of criminals to include those merely charged with a crime and reinstated the Secure Communities giving them the ability to deport and immigrant in jail.
On date, an executive order was signed suspending the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for one hundred twenty days and end the Syrian Refugee Admissions Program indefinitely. The order also blocked immigrants and visa holders from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan for ninety days. The refugee quota for 2017 was cut in half, and Trump stated that “religious minorities” would be prioritized for the remaining spots. Immediately following the order, protests were held at major airports in cities around the country. Forty separate lawsuits were filed against the order, and on Friday night, Judge James Robart of the Western District of Washington ruled of one of these cases, issuing a temporary restraining order that forces the federal government to stop enforcing the ban, effectively undoing the legislation. This, however, will does not reinstate the sixty to one hundred thousand visas that have already been revoked.
A hiring freeze was put in place in the federal government, and a regulatory freeze was implemented in all agencies, meaning that no new regulations can move forward without approval from the new administration. The administration also temporarily suspended all new business activities at the Department of Agriculture, including any press releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds and social media content. This came after the official account of the Nation Parks Service, a bureau of the department, retweeted a photo that compared the crowd gathered on the National Mall for Trump with the much larger gathering that stood in the same spot eight years earlier for President Barack Obama’s swearing-in.
In response to a ballistic missile test conducted by the country of Iran, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on more than two dozen people and Iranian companies. National Security Advisor, David Flynn, said that, “The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over.” Iran’s foreign ministry, however, declared the sanctions to be “illegitimate” and insists nothing was done to violate the nuclear deal made between Iran and the U.S. because the missiles tested were not designed to be capable of delivering nuclear warheads. The president also approved a raid in Yemen last week in which an eight-year-old American girl, a member of seal team six, and several other non-combatant men, women and children were killed, resulting in a death toll of nearly sixty. When speaking to NBC, a military official said of the raid, “Almost everything went wrong”.
The new administration has also ordered the Department of Labor to reconsider the Fiduciary rule which requires retirement advisors to act in the best interest of their clients. The rule was designed to be a basic consumer protection preventing brokers from taking advantage of vulnerable consumers. Trump has directed the department to investigate whether or not the rule may “adversely affect” investors’ ability to access financial advice, and to rescind it if it does. In addition he ordered the Treasury Department to start undoing the financial reform regulations outlined in the Dodd-Frank bill that was enacted following the 2008 financial crisis. Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform said of the order, “The administration apparently plans to turn over financial regulation to Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs, and make it easier for them and other big banks like Wells Fargo to steal from their customers and destabilize the economy. That betrays the promises Trump made to stand up to Wall Street, and it will have dire consequences if he’s successful.”
The Mexico City policy, also known as the “global gag rule”, denies federal funding to any foreign family planning organizations that “provide, support or discuss abortion”, even if they are using funds from non-US government sources for the operations and even if abortion is completely legal in their countries. The policy was first put in place by President Reagan in 1984 and has since been repealed, reinstated and repealed again – in 1993, 2001 and 2009, respectively. Whenever it is in effect, it causes clinics around the world to close, service are reduced and there are more unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions. The Trump administration has not only reinstated the policy, they have also expanded it to include all global health organizations, not only family planning centers could mean endangering maternal and child health programs, efforts to fight the Zika virus and the expansive PEPFAR program which was intended stop HIV/AIDS and has been hailed as the most successful health aid program in US history.
In his first two weeks Trump has also cancelled all ads promoting ObamaCare and ordered all agencies to waive any fees and regulations imposed by ObamaCare “to the maximum extent permitted by law”, in congruency with his plans to dismantle and replace the system. He has also encouraged Energy Transfers Partners to continue construction on the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline and hinted that the TransCanada Company could reapply for a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline with success. In addition he’s nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, who has long a record of siding with corporations over workers in court cases.
Now that Donald Trump has been elected, gone are the promises to “drain the swamp” and “improve the lives of the working people” and here are the Goldman-Sachs and ExxonMoblie executives-turned-cabinet-members. With his first two weeks barely behind him, Trump has already set the tone for what we can expect from the rest of his term, and it is not far off from what his critics predicted.