Over the past two weeks, crowds across the United States and the world have taken to the streets to protest a series of recent killings of black US Americans.
On February 23, 25-year old Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while on a run after being pursued by a former police officer and his son. The following month, police in Louisville, Kentucky executed a search warrant to force themselves into the home of 26-year old Breonna Taylor, an E.M.T. They shot her at least 8 times, killing her in her own bed. Last month, a Minneapolis police officer was charged with homicide after pinning George Floyd on the ground and kneeling on his neck for almost 9 minutes.
The day after Floyd’s death, protests began in Minneapolis as citizens called for the police officer responsible for Floyd’s death, along with the three other officers present at the time, to be held accountable. Quickly, solidarity protests spread throughout the nation, with marches taking place in all 50 states and participants demanding an end to police brutality and systematic racism in the United States. Some protests have led to looting and destruction of property, which has been met by violence from police with the use of rubber bullets, tear gas, arrests, and beatings. Reports of police indiscriminately tear gassing, striking, and arresting peaceful protestors has led to concern and outcry. In one instance, peaceful protesters were removed from Lafayette Square in front of the White House with tear gas and rubber bullets so President Donald Trump could walk to a photo op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. The American Civil Liberties Union is now suing Trump and other federal officials involved.
On Friday, April 6, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in a memorandum the introduction of a zero tolerance policy for migrants who enter the United States without documentation.
On Monday, February 12, the White House released its budget request for the 2019 fiscal year. The document, which proposes drastically cutting the budgets for U.S. aid to Latin America, simultaneously increases defense and domestic infrastructure spending.
Open Americas firmly believes that any budget reflects the political and personal values of its creators. The very same strong sentiments of nativism, militarism, and U.S. exceptionalism expressed in the FY2019 document are embedded in policy decisions that adversely affect people throughout the Americas.
As it pertains to the relationship that the United States shares with Latin America, President Trump has requested roughly $1.6 billion USD to build 65 miles’ worth of a wall along the Texas-Mexico border and approximately $990 million USD to hire 2,750 new ICE and Border Patrol agents. In the same proposal, the President advocates for a $1.9 billion USD reduction in aid to Latin America, diminishing the United States’ ability to achieve its own regional objectives.
On the morning of Tuesday, September 5, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be rescinded. An Obama administration 2012 executive action, DACA grants temporary legal status and provides 2-year work permits to individuals who were brought to the country as children without immigration documents. According to the Washington Post, an estimated 800,000 immigrants benefit from the program.
Sessions maintained that to best serve the national interest, Congress must determine and enforce a legislative limit on immigration. Claiming that DACA violates the Constitution, he stated, “…it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and that the Constitutional order is upheld. No greater good can be done for the overall health and well-being of our Republic, than preserving and strengthening the impartial rule of law. Societies where the rule of law is treasured are societies that tend to flourish and succeed.”
On July 26, 2017, President Trump released a series of three tweets regarding transgender individuals in the military. His tweets declared that transgender individuals would be barred from any role in the military due to the need for “decisive and overwhelming… victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption.” The contents of the three tweets are shown below. Open Americas condemns the policy indicated by these tweets by the current administration.