Four years of Donald Trump in the White House have left the country sick, impoverished and exhausted, and in the midst of enormous crises aggravated by his administration’s unprecedented incompetency and corruption.
COVID-19 has already taken close to 220,000 of our friends and family members and infected more than 8 million Americans. My Latino community has paid a disproportionate price in this pandemic, with more than 44,500 deaths. More than 90,000 Latinos, Blacks and Native Americans have died of this disease, 43 percent of the total, even though these communities comprise only 31 percent of the US population.
Few images manage to describe the Trump administration’s inherent chaos and cruelty like the terrified cry of that little girl while her immigrant mother is being detained at the border. We don’t know, and perhaps never will, how many children were ripped from the arms of their asylum-seeking parents.
These heartbreaking numbers are due in large part to the negligence of the Trump administration, which systematically dismantled the defense system that stopped two pandemics during the Obama administration. All along the crucial first three months of the pandemic, Trump lied to us, downplaying its severity, reassuring the country that it was under control or that it would disappear “like a miracle.” In recorded conversations with journalist Bob Woodward published in September, Trump acknowledged that even though he knew fully well about the lethality of the virus from the very beginning, he intentionally brushed it aside while the death toll increased exponentially. By early May, an effective reaction to fight the pandemic could have saved some 36,000 lives, according to a Columbia University study.
These almost eight pandemic months have demolished the national economy down to Great Depression levels. From mid-March to late June, almost 50 million Americans applied for unemployment insurance, and the community that suffered the most was mine. Regardless of the fact that half of those jobs have been recovered for white workers, for us Latinos that has not been the case. The official jobless rate is 7.9 percent. Yet if we considered an unemployed person as someone who unsuccessfully looks for a job that pays a living wage, then that number skyrockets to a monstrous 26.1 percent. While the administration and its allies in the Senate wash their hands in the passing of a new economic relief package, 40 million Americans are in grave risk of being evicted.
Yet, few images manage to describe the Trump administration’s inherent chaos and cruelty like the terrified cry of that little girl while her immigrant mother is being detained at the border. We don’t know, and perhaps never will, how many children were ripped from the arms of their asylum-seeking parents. According to Amnesty International, more than 6,000 family units have been separated. An investigation by the Associated Press, however, found that almost 70,000 children were separated. In any instance, thousands of them, as young as 3, were put in cages in horrible sanitary conditions, and a great majority of them have suffered irreversible psychological damage. A recent internal investigation confirmed that the Department of Justice’s official policy was to “separate the children,” “no matter how young they are.”
Another monumental failure of the Trump presidency is his border wall. This symbol of racism has wasted some $18.5 billion — of which Trump illegally usurped $13.3 billion from the Pentagon’s budget — has desecrated burial and sacred sites of local tribes, dynamited irreplaceable landscapes, and interrupted the migrations of countless endangered species.
Trump is promising four more years of the same. His plan to fight the pandemic consists of letting the virus to run its course, at an estimated cost of up to 6 million lives and will continue ignoring the climate crisis while the UN warns us that governmental inaction is risking to turn wide areas of the world into an “inhabitable hell.”
From now to November 3rd, vote as if your life, and those of your family, depended on it. For information about how and where to vote, call free 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682).
Javier Sierra es un Columnista del Sierra Club. @javier_SC
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