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DOJ Rolls Back Anti-Discrimination Rules

Trump Justice Dept. reversing Obama-era positions on discrimination policies. CNN: "Recent Trump administration moves on civil rights bring into sharper focus its efforts to reverse the Obama era and curtail decades-old laws designed to shield blacks, Latinos and other racial minorities from discrimination. Last week, the Justice Department retreated from a prior position and said Texas' record of voter discrimination did not justify requiring prior approval for any new redistricting maps. The Obama administration had argued that a provision of the Voting Rights Act empowering judges to intervene should cover Texas, which has been mired in minority-voter disputes for years. The administration is also apparently considering retrenchment against policies that appear neutral but have the effect of discriminating against minorities. In December, a federal commission convened by the White House recommended the rescission of Obama policy intended to ensure that African-American students are not disproportionately targeted under school discipline rules. The Washington Post reported in January that the administration is considering a "far-reaching" curtailment of such regulations against practices that -- although not intentionally discriminatory -- have a "disparate impact" on minorities, whether at schools, on the job, or in the pursuit of housing. (The Justice Department would not comment on the report.) At the same time, the administration is also engaged in a lawsuit against Harvard's affirmative action admissions practices that have traditionally benefited blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans. It is siding with a group that says Asian-American applicants are held to a higher standard for admissions, compared especially to black students."

Trump Sends More Troops To Border

Pentagon Deploying 3,750 Troops To Southern Border. NPR: "Another 3,750 troops will be sent to the southern border to help install wire barriers and to monitor crossings, officials said. The new deployment will bring the total number of active-duty troops there to around 6,000. In a tweet on Sunday, President Trump said that "STRONG border security" is necessary in the face of "Caravans marching through Mexico and toward our Country." The announcement of new troops on Sunday comes just days before Trump is expected to discuss border security measures during Tuesday's State of the Union Address. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Thursday that the troops would be deployed to the border over the next month, NPR's Tom Bowman reported. They'll join the 2,300 active-duty troops already there, bringing the total to about the same number as were deployed in the fall. Another 2,100 National Guard troops are also stationed there. "At the Pentagon, people I talk with say, listen: this is a waste of money," Bowman said. Stringing razor wire is a job better suited to the National Guard, they tell Bowman; "you don't use active-duty troops for this." Military troops deployed at the border "are not allowed to apprehend migrants the way border agents do," NBC News reported."

NC Prosecutors Target Immigrants

Trump-appointed prosecutor focused on allegations of voting fraud by immigrants amid warnings about separate ballot scheme. WaPo: "20 immigrants — two still in pajamas — were rounded up over several days, many of them handcuffed and shackled, and charged with voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election. The sweep across eastern North Carolina was one of the most aggressive voting-fraud crackdowns by a Trump-appointed prosecutor — and also a deliberate choice that demonstrates where the administration’s priorities stand. At the time of the arrests, an organized ballot-tampering effort that state officials had repeatedly warned about was allegedly gearing up in the same part of North Carolina. The operation burst into public view after Election Day in November when the state elections board, citing irregularities in the mail-in vote, refused to certify the results of the 9th Congressional District race. That seat remains unfilled while state officials investigate. The decision by U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon Jr. to focus his office’s resources on the prosecution of noncitizens rather than the ballot-tampering allegations in Bladen County comes amid a broad push by President Trump and other Republicans to portray illegal voting as a widespread phenomenon that threatens the integrity of American elections. After the August arrests, Higdon issued subpoenas for millions of records of foreign-born voters from state and local agencies — a request North Carolina officials have said will consume an enormous amount of time and costs millions of dollars."

GOP Throttles TX Voters

Texas Voter-Fraud Claims Don’t Have to Be True to Achieve Their Goal. The Atlantic: "Federal courts struck down Texas’s original voter-ID law, which would have required certain forms of government-issued identification in order to vote, deeming it intentional discrimination against minorities. But GOP officials who lead the state argued that the passage and implementation of the law was necessary to prevent voter fraud, and last year Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accepted the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold a slightly revised version of the law that would allow other forms of identity verification for people who can’t get the proper government-issued documentation. Yet Republicans still don’t think the regulation has done the job. Last week, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley’s office sent an advisory to counties involving a list of people who’d been identified as potential noncitizens with a matching voter-registration record. Activists and media criticized the list as inaccurate and misleading. But that didn’t stop GOP officials from using the list as definitive proof of rampant voter fraud, despite having no evidence that anyone had voted illegally. Their fervor seemed to add to the suspicion that the party has an endgame well beyond “ballot security,” and to the fear that new forms of voter suppression are just on the horizon. On January 25, Whitley sent out letters to counties with a list of 95,000 registered voters who were matched with people flagged by the Texas Department of Public Safety as being noncitizens. Whitley and his office did not provide much in the way of the methodology used in their 11-month-long review of public records, nor did they respond to requests for comment. But Whitley’s spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday that the release was “part of the process of ensuring no eligible voters were impacted by any list maintenance activity.” Ostensibly, the letters were intended to begin a formal citizenship-review process, which would verify any claims of fraudulent ballots and also purge nonrespondents from voter rolls. But from the outset, other forces were at work."

CA Brings Back Free College

Spending on free community college for Californians would pay off big for the state. LA Times: "A little-noticed gem in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget would return California partway back to its glory days of tuition-free college. It’s a relatively tiny, $40-million item in a $209-billion state budget — and a bargain. It certainly wouldn’t return California all the way back to when my generation — and all those before ours — could go to any public college without paying tuition. That included what we called “junior college,” “state college” (later fancied up to California State University) and the University of California. A college away from home, of course, really wasn’t free. There were housing and book costs. But just about any kid who wanted a college degree could afford one in California. California provided its citizens a tuition-free higher education because it was a sound investment for the state. It helped California achieve greatness by broadening the middle class, offering an opportunity for upward mobility not available in other states and supplying an educated work force for a rapidly expanding economy."

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