When Asked About Human Rights Issues, Trump Pointed to His Website. Here’s What We Found

June 21, 2019, 1:12 PM UTC

Amnesty International recently sent a questionnaire to the more than two dozen U.S. presidential candidates on human rights issues, ranging from refugees and asylum-seekers to gun violence, LGBTQ equality, and women’s rights.

Nine of those candidates filled out the form, and President Donald Trump, in his response, directed readers to his website.

“President Trump has a robust record of success and we allow that record to speak for itself www.promiseskept.com,” his response reads.

But a search for human rights in the ‘search accomplishments’ bar, yields only one item: “The Department of Health and Human Services Created the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the Office For Civil Rights.”

The division was created to ensure that health care workers and health care companies are not required to participate in medical services, such as abortion and suicide, if they object on religious or conscientious grounds. While some may argue that it protects the First Amendment rights of the provider, it simultaneously inhibits the rights of the person seeking these procedures.

Without other examples of Trump’s human rights record on his website, we took a look at his actions related to some of the human rights issues that were included in Amnesty’s 13 questions.

On LGBTQ Rights

On Trump’s first day in office, the White House website removed all mentions of LGBTQ people and issues from the site. In July of his first year, Trump announced a ban on transgender troops serving in the military.

The New York Times reported in October 2018 that the Trump administration was considering “narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth,” which the Times said would “essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves—surgically or otherwise—as a gender other than the one they were born into.”

That same month the State Department implemented a new Trump administration policy that prohibits same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats working in the U.S. from getting a visa to move here with their partner.

The Department of Justice filed a brief with the Supreme Court later in October arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect gay and transgender workers from discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The Supreme Court announced in April of this year that it will be hearing the case.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a change to the Equal Access Rule in May, which would allow homeless shelters to deny access to transgender people on religious grounds. The State Department has also refused to recognize the birthright citizenship of children of multiple same-sex couples. In at least one instance, State Department is appealing a circuit court’s decision to grant the child citizenship.

And earlier this month, the Trump administration rejected requests from a number of U.S. embassies to fly the rainbow pride flag on embassy flagpoles during Pride Month.

On Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers

Trump signed an executive order in his first month in office banning citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days as a means to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists.” It also indefinitely blocked Syrian refugees from entering the country. He revised the order in March of 2017, removing Iraq from the list. By September of that year, Trump issued a third version of the ‘Muslim Ban,’ which was of indefinite duration.

That same month, the Trump administration formally announced plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Last year, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for the implementation of a “zero tolerance” policy at the border, which resulted in extensive family separations. Thousands of children were separated from their families before Trump signed an executive order in June that replaced family separation with family detention. He instructed Sessions to ask the federal court to modify the long-standing Flores Agreement, which prevents the government from keeping children in detention for more than 20 days to allow families to be detained indefinitely.

The Department of Homeland Security announced last year that it was not extending Temporary Protected Status for individuals from Nepal, Honduras, Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador, affecting more than 300,000 people. The Trump administration has also changed asylum laws, ruling last year that fears of domestic or gang violence was not grounds for asylum in the U.S., and issuing an order in April that would keep those seeking asylum in detention while they wait to see a judge.

Trump enabled the longest government shutdown in U.S. history over a dispute regarding funding the U.S.-Mexico border wall in January, and then proceeded to declare a national emergency in February to acquire the funding.

The Trump administration plans to include a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 Census, which it says is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act. Critics argue that it would be used to deter those living in the U.S. illegally from participating in the Census, which could change how seats in Congress are allocated. The Supreme Court is due to rule on the matter later this month.

Earlier this week, Trump claimed that ICE will make mass arrests of migrants, writing on Twitter, “Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people”

On Women’s Rights

In September 2017, the Department of Education announced that it was rescinding Obama-era guidelines on sexual assault in schools, narrowing the definition of sexual harassment and increasing the burden of proof in assault claims.

This year the Trump administration announced that it would bar organizations that provide abortion referrals from getting federal family planning funds, known as a “domestic gag rule.” It would prevent organizations like Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding under Title X.

At the same time, the Trump administration has also reinstated a “global gag rule.” The initial law, which was reinstated in January 2017, prohibits foreign NGOs from using U.S. family planning aid to perform or promote abortion. In March 2017, the administration expanded the law to include global health aid to foreign NGOs, and then in March of this year expanded the law even further, such that organizations that give money to foreign NGOs that perform abortions would not be eligible for U.S. health aid.

On Gun Violence

The Federal Commission on School Safety issued a report in December 2018, which recommends arming teachers as a possible recourse to prevent school shootings. Before the report was released, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had already said that she wouldn’t prevent states from tapping into the school enrichment fund to put guns in schools.

On Foreign Policy and International Organizations

Trump has repeatedly met with and praised numerous global leaders known for their repressive regimes and poor records on human rights, including Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines; Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of Egypt; Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia; Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey; Vladimir Putin, President of Russia; and Kim Jong-un, Supreme Leader of North Korea.

In June 2018, the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council—just a day after UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein denounced the Trump administration’s family separation policies.

In April, the Trump administration failed to nominate anyone to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

And last month, the Trump administration announced plans to launch the Commission on Unalienable Rights, which is intended to “provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.”

Critics have expressed concern that, as The Washington Post said, “any group with any ideology can use the resonant language of rights to push its own agenda.” In particular, “natural law” could be used by religious groups to reject homosexuality, transgender rights, and reproductive choice.

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