Civil Rights and Womens Groups Respond to President Trump’s Address to Congress

Alarming concern over policies and issues impacting women and people of color

100 days
(Image: iStock/BasSlabbers)

Donald Trump spoke to a joint session of Congress and laid out his legislative agenda for America. News outlets like The New York Times characterized it as “optimistic.” CNN, which the president refers to as fake news, reported that its CNN’s Reality Check Team was there to vet his claims.

 

Congresswomen Protest Trump

 

Several female members of Congress wore white, considered the color of suffragists, in protest of Trump. In response to the president’s first address to Congress, Ms. Foundation President and CEO Teresa C. Younger released a statement that she was disturbed. “He spoke of uniting America, but almost every idea, every proposal promises to lead to more division. Rather than focusing on addressing our challenges, Mr. Trump called for more policing, more immigration enforcement, and boasted progress on the Dakota Access Pipeline even as he gutted regulations for clean water—a slap in the face to indigenous people everywhere.”

She went on to say, “what we needed to hear from Donald Trump was a comprehensive economic security agenda. One that includes all the issues that impact women’s ability to survive and thrive: immigration reform, racial justice, workers’ rights, caregiving, and reproductive health care. All critical issues for women and people of color.”

 

Unjust Criminal Justice System

 

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued a statement noting that Trump continues to pursue policies that put the powerful above the people and attack the most vulnerable in our society.

“He touted his Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime, but his Justice Department has already pursued policies that fail to create a better criminal justice system. The recent decision to continue to rely on private prisons for federal inmates is neither humane nor budget-wise. We need a justice system that can work better for all people,” stated Henderson in a press release.

Citing the president’s push for Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court pick, Henderson added, ‘Gorsuch has consistently shown that he puts powerful corporate interests above the rights of workers and ordinary people.”

 

Education ‘The Civil Rights Issue of Our Time’

 

Given the philosophy of our Secretary of Education, it was not surprising that Trump called for Congress to divert public funding for schools in private school voucher programs, added Henderson. “Such efforts are likely to undermine federal civil rights protections and open the door to taxpayer-funded discrimination. And just a week after his administration rescinded Title IX guidance to protect transgender students, Trump called education ‘the civil rights issue of our time.’ That’s not what standing up for civil rights looks like.”

The call to Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) will not help protect the health and well-being of Americans, particularly the poor and underserved, note various critics. Younger accused the president of playing politics with human lives, “Donald Trump and his allies in Congress seemed casually enthused about robbing 30 million people of their health care coverage, including the 13 million people who have benefited from the expansion of Medicaid.”

 

Protecting Marginalized Communities

 

Trump and his administration are trying to enact policies that will dehumanize immigrants, Mexican- and Muslim-Americans, LGBTQ people, and others, according to GLAAD. The LGBTQ rights and media monitoring organization called out Trump for using his office to attack marginalized communities: “even though he has claimed to be a friend to LGBTQ people, we watched in horror last week as he put trans youth in harm’s way. Now it’s more important than ever to stand together to oppose these dangerous policies.”