The State of a Fragmented Union

February 1, 2018

Photo by WKSU
Photo by WKSU

“Tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties — Democrats and Republicans — to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed.” On Tuesday, President Trump delivered his first State of the Union to a divided nation.

Appealing to his base, Trump touted that “over the last year, [we] have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success.” But, the backdrop of Tuesday's State of the Union happened within the first anniversary of the Muslim ban and the firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to enforce it. Yet, he did not bring up the Muslim ban or his Executive Orders to ban immigrants and refugees based on faith or ethnic background. Trump’s first year also highlighted his affinity for white nationalism by stacking his administration with white supremacists like Sebastian Gorka, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Carl Higbie, Michael Anton, among others. He has failed to protect and defend religious minorities and vigorously defends a distorted view of religious liberty that grants a license to discriminate.

The State of the Union was a tale of two Trumps. He called for unity and encouraged Republicans and Democrats to reach across the aisle while simultaneously undercutting himself with divisive policy proposals. He laid out a four-pillar immigration plan that would create a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers but contingent on ending family reunification, ending the diversity lottery program, and the construction of a wall along the southern border.

Rather than recognizing the contributions of immigrants and how they make America great, Trump began his remarks on immigration by focusing on the threat of MS-13. The context he laid out was one where all immigrants are dangerous and require additional law enforcement resources to counteract and vet them. Many studies have shown that immigrants commit less crimes than U.S.-born citizens.

In his first year, Trump has done little to address the sharp spike in hate crimes that correlates with his presidency. He has emboldened violent white supremacists through his non-condemnation of the violence they committed in Charlottesville. According to an FBI study, hate crimes against Americans rose by 4.6 percent in 2016. Combating hate crimes must be a priority for Trump and Attorney General Sessions. Trump must support additional funding for the DOJ’s Community Relations Service and Civil Rights Division and programs that prevent bias-motivated crimes.

Trump boasted that his administration has “taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.” Last May, he signed an executive order that is vague and uses the banner of free speech and religious liberty as justification for implementing partisan political agendas -- granting a license to discriminate against minorities and the LGBTQ community. There are many steps that the President can take to protect religious freedom. For example, he can defend Muslims’ right to build mosques and wear religious clothing.

In his address, Trump did not propose any appropriate solutions for the major problems facing our country, like immigration, religious liberty, and police reform. We want to see the immediate passage of a clean DREAM Act divorced from national security contingencies, Trump working with Attorney General Sessions to standardize hate crimes reporting and enacting reforms that will improve police-community relations, and focusing religious liberty protections to protect religious communities rather than a tool to discriminate. These are steps that Trump should take to make America great again for all.



View All


Help us continue our work with a quick
one-time or monthly donation.