These Families Were Directly Threatened by Trump’s Agenda in His First 100 Days

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These Families Were Directly Threatened by Trump’s Agenda in His First 100 Days

Kim Brewer of North Carolina, with her daughters Laney and Ava. (Photo: Kim Brewer)

Media coverage of Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president has largely focused on what Trump didn’t do during his brief time in office—from his stalled attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to his reversal on campaign promises like exiting NAFTA or building a wall funded by MexicoIndeed, Trump has either failed to accomplish, stalled, or outright abandoned many of the goals he set when he entered office.

But this narrative overlooks the very real harm Trump has inflicted on the country—and, more importantly, on individuals affected by his policies. From undocumented immigrants, to people living near coal ash, to low-income families who would feel the effects of budget cuts—Trump has already done real damage to American families.

Here are three people who illustrate the human impact of Trump’s agenda during his first 100 days in office:

1. Kim Brewer

Kim Brewer is a mother of four who lives in Dukeville, North Carolina, near a major coal-fired power plant named Buck Steam Station. According to Brewer, her first two children were born healthy. But after moving to Dukeville, she gave birth to two daughters with severe birth defects. Ava was born with Chiari malformation, a brain defect linked to exposure to toxic chemicals—including coal ash, which is generated by coal-fired power plants. Her youngest daughter, Laney, has spina bifida, which is also linked to coal ash. Both girls have also been diagnosed with epilepsy.

Buck Steam Station stores its coal ash in an unlined pit near a local waterway. The ash contains a variety of toxic chemicals—including arsenic, lead, mercury, and thallium (an active ingredient in rat poison). Living near coal ash sites is linked to heart disease, cancer, respiratory illness and stroke—the leading causes of death in the country. It’s especially toxic when it leaks, as Buck Steam Station did in 2014, contaminating groundwater, wetlands, and rivers.

In December, the Obama administration released a new rule protecting waterways from coal ash. Experts estimated the rule would have improved water quality in over 250 miles of streams every year.  But days after taking office, Trump signed legislation that quashed the rule—one in a spate of bills designed to undermine environmental protections.

Trump could still do more to protect people from coal ash, but if his Cabinet appointments are any indication, that won’t happen anytime soon. Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency, has delayed a separate rule regulating the safe storage of coal ash; and Trump’s nominee to run the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resource Division—the office in charge of prosecuting coal ash violations—is a former lobbyist for the coal industry.

2. Juan Carlos Fomperosa Garcia

No community has borne the brunt of Trump’s policies more than immigrants—both undocumented and documented. Juan Carlos Fomperosa Garcia, a 44-year-old father of three American citizens, worked for years in construction in Arizona.

Last month, he and his daughter, Yennifer, visited the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office (ICE) for what he hoped would be a routine check-in. They planned to return home afterwards to celebrate the 17thbirthday of Fomperosa Garcia’s son.  Instead, after an hour, ICE officers came to the waiting area and told Yennifer that her father had been detained.

The next day he was deported.

According to The Arizona Republic, Fomperosa Garcia had a worker’s permit and a pending asylum application to stay in the country—and had never committed a crime. “My father is not a criminal,” Yennifer said through tears at a press conference following his detention. “He’s not one of those people that…President Trump says. He’s not a rapist, he’s not a drug dealer and he’s not a murderer. My father’s an honest, working man, a family man that loves everyone he meets. He cares too much and that’s the only crime.”

“Please, everyone, be aware. They are taking everyone,’’ she told the crowd. 

Fomperosa Garcia is just one victim of Trump’s mass deportations. Trump initially said he would focus on “bad hombres” or criminals, but ICE officers have since targeted people with minor violations, so-called “collateral arrests,” and even DREAMers who came to the country as children.

3. Martha Daniels

Martha Daniels was displaced from her New Orleans home after losing everything in Hurricane Katrina. She now lives in Houston, where she relies on Meals on Wheels, a partially federally-funded program that connects volunteers with people who can’t buy or cook their own meals—often seniors.

For many, Meals on Wheels provides more than just nutrition assistance. It is a source of companionship and, importantly, regular health check-ins for seniors living alone—seniors like Daniels.

In January, a Meals on Wheels volunteer paid a routine visit to Daniels’ home. Instead of displaying her normal bubbly personality, Daniels was sitting stiff in her lounge chair and not breathing wellaccording to Houston CBS affiliate KHOU. She was rushed to the hospital, where the doctor told her she was suffering from a mild heart attack. Physicians said she may not have lived through the night if she hadn’t been brought to the hospital.

“If she wouldn’t have checked on me, who knows who would have come,” Daniels said.

Under Trump’s budget, people like Daniels may not have access to Meals on Wheels and its life-saving volunteers. Trump would eliminate the Community Development Block Grant and the Community Services Block Grant —two of the main sources of funding for the program. Despite inaccurate statements by the Trump administration, Meals on Wheels receives more than one-third of its funding from the federal government—and cuts of this scale would make it hard for many local community-run programs to keep their doors open.

When we talk about Trump’s First 100 Days, we need to remember that his policies are not an abstraction. They are causing immediate—and in some cases irreparable —damage to communities across the country. For all the infightinglies, and scandals of his administration, Trump is making progress on remaking the country in his image. And that should give everyone who lives here pause.

Jeremy Slevin

Jeremy Slevin

Jeremy Slevin is the Associate Director of Advocacy for the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress.

 

 

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