President Trump’s Executive Orders Do Nothing to Help People in Need

We must demand a sustained and comprehensive set of actions to finally dismantle these inequities.

Before COVID-19, before a series of anti-immigrant federal policies, and before George Floyd, our nation was built on a series of systems and policies intentionally designed to exclude and oppress communities of color, and we have seen, even when disaster strikes, the drumbeat of exclusion plays on.

To become a society where everyone has healthcare, economic opportunity, housing they can afford, access to a community rich with resources and not criminalization, and the ability to weather even the worst crisis, we must demand a sustained and comprehensive set of actions to finally dismantle these inequities.    

At this moment, more than 160,000 individuals have died from COVID, more than five million have had it, roughly 55 million have filed for unemployment benefits since March, and more than five million have lost their health insuranceMore than one in four children live in a home that is housing and food insecure. We are in the middle of this crisis’ story. These numbers already disproportionately fall on Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities and will only get worse.

In May, the U.S. House passed legislation to extend the federal eviction moratorium, continue increased unemployment payments, provide additional nutrition assistance, give people additional direct cash payments, and offer hazard pay and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to essential workers. The Senate has still failed to act on that legislation, resulting in enhanced unemployment benefits ending and an estimated 40 million people now facing eviction by the end of the year, accounting for anywhere from 29% to 43% of all renter households in America.

On Saturday, July 8, President Trump signed a series of executive orders and memorandums purporting to address this crisis. In reality, these orders are likely illegal stunts that entirely fail to help people in need and reduce stark racial disparities.

  • Since March, the federal government has been supplementing state unemployment payments by $600 per week. This funding has been vital to keeping families housed. Trump’s order is a cruel hoax for workers who have lost their jobs – unconstitutionally committing federal funds without Congressional approval and requiring states to contribute funds – and even if implemented would only replace part of this critical benefit.
  • Instead of urging Congress to expand protections previously enacted by passing the HEROES Act, which would extend eviction protections and provide $100 billion in rental assistance, Trump’s order plays upon the vulnerabilities of those who are housing unstable and falsely claims to prevent evictions. It does nothing of the sort.   
  • Instead of just providing direct cash payments to all adults and children, including immigrant families, Trump would temporarily halt payroll tax deductions from paychecks, without any guarantee that workers would not have to repay the funds later.  This cannot be implemented without Congressional approval, would do nothing to help people who are not working, and would dramatically reduce the primary funding sources for Social Security and Medicare. In short – this provision is another false promise that will ultimately offer no relief to people in need. 
  • There is a glaring omission of health care during a health crisis. Trump’s orders say nothing about Medicaid, SNAP, and the critical supports people living in America need now.  

As we demand long overdue reform, urgent actions must be taken by the federal government to provide critical economic relief and stave the growing racial inequities gap. Black communities are experiencing the highest rates of unemployment and Latinx workers make up a disproportionate number of essential workers who are being required to work but not being protected on the job. At the same time, many immigrants are restricted from receiving most federal benefits even during a pandemic. When they do, they may be penalized for doing so. 

We have known for years what actions must be taken to dismantle systemic racism, even in the best of times. In the worst of times, those steps are even more critical to our future as a nation. Congress and the President must act immediately to bring people real relief. 

More Information

Systemic inequities and the legacy of structural racism make it harder for low-income people and people of color to achieve financial stability.

Healthcare is a human right. The high cost of care means millions of families have no access to the critical care all human beings deserve.

Shelter is not only a basic human need, it is also critical to people’s ability to pursue and attain economic stability.

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