It used to be a political truism in Republican circles that it was bad to be seen as trying to take things away from people. The GOP may have had different ideas than Democrats about how to organize the country, but it was understood that doing things that actively hurt people generally hurt the party, too. Donald Trump has chucked that understanding out the window — along with so many others — during his presidency. As we approach the three-year mark since he took office, the list of people worse off than they were when he began his term has only grown.
Trump has spent a lot of time and energy dismantling the legacy of Barack Obama. He’s rescinded protections for the LGBTQ+ community, deported more people from the interior of the country, and separated families at the border. And while some of his administration’s targets reflect the racist foundations of his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump’s policies have also done harm to the very people he promised to champion, such as farmers and factory workers in the Rust Belt.
Below, a list of eight communities that have been hurt by Trump and his policies.
Americans who rely on food stamps
The Trump administration is implementing new work requirements that will cause at least 688,000 people to lose access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps. Under current SNAP regulations, able-bodied and childless Americans between the ages of 18 and 49 have to work at least 20 hours a week to retain their benefits, but states can waive this standard for those in high-unemployment areas. Trump’s new rule bans states from creating these waivers unless the areas have a 6% unemployment rate or higher — nearly doubled the national average. A study by the Mathematica Policy Research and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 97% of SNAP participants who will be affected by the new rule already live in poverty.
Trump has made a hardline anti-immigration agenda the cornerstone of his administration, which is why everyone from authorized immigrants to migrant children and asylum seekers have had their lives upended by his policies.
The family separation crisis and allowing harrowing conditions at detention centers at the southern border stand out as two of the administration’s most cruel moves. More than 5,400 migrant children have been separated from their families since Trump’s Department of Homeland Security instituted its zero-tolerance policy. The children have faced intense trauma, according to a U.S. government report from September 2019. As the number of immigrants crossing the border surged in 2019, the administration scrambled to deal with the influx and has expanded detention centers. It also sought to justify the unsanitary and overcrowded conditions at these facilities, which advocates have compared to concentration camps.
Trump has terrorized immigrants with any kind of legal status, up to and including U.S. citizenship. The administration has cut back the diversity visa lottery, making it harder for people who receive public benefits to obtain green cards, and attempted to shift the immigration system to a “merit-based” one. In September 2017, the Trump administration also attempted to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a move which remains in litigation. The Obama-era policy protects about 700,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, commonly known as Dreamers. The U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to allow Trump to end the policy. In the meantime, Trump has tried to increase the cost of DACA renewals (no new applications are being accepted) from $495 to $765, a 55% hike that advocates say is cost-prohibitive. The administration also nearly doubled the cost of regular citizenship applications, from $640 to $1,170, and of legal permanent residency ones, increasing them from $1,220 to $2,195. Under Trump, immigration authorities have detained U.S. citizens and held them in custody, some as young as 9-years-old.
Refugees have fallen afoul of Trump’s aggressive immigration agenda, too. The number of refugees admitted to the country has gone down from 96,900 in 2016 to just 22,900 in 2018. The new cap is 18,000 — a record low. And under the president’s travel ban, thousands of families from Muslim-majority countries remain separated from loved ones who live in the United States.
Farmers were a key constituency for Trump in 2016, but they are suffering the consequences of the White House’s trade war with China. Last year, Beijing imposed tariffs on agricultural products such as pork, soybeans, wheat, corn, and dairy products. Though the Trump administration has provided several aid packages to farmers since then, it has not been enough to offset waning global demand. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, “for the 12-month period ending September 2019, Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies totaled 580 filings, up 24% from the prior year and the highest level since 676 filings in 2011.” The financial instability, combined with the effects of catastrophic weather, has led to an increase in suicides among farm owners and workers, agricultural leaders say.
One of the president’s main campaign promises was to revive the manufacturing industry. Though the administration believes that tariffs will bring back jobs from China, the reality is that cheaper labor markets in areas like South Asia are the ones benefiting from the trade war — not your local factory worker. According to the October jobs report, the manufacturing sector has been shrinking in the last few months. As companies seek to cut costs, factories across the country have shut down and workers have been laid off.
Native American communities have been caught in the middle of Trump’s push for more oil pipelines and drilling. In 2017, the administration pushed for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to the Gwich’in Nation of Fort Yukon. Members of the tribe say the administration is disregarding their concerns about their sacred land and how the process would harm the diverse wildlife in the area. A similar fight has taken place in Montana and South Dakota, where the Rosebud Sioux tribe and Fort Belknap Indian Reservation say the Keystone XL pipeline authorized by Trump threatens their cultural sites and water supply systems.
Americans in need of health insurance
One of Trump’s main campaign promises was to end the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. That has not happened, so the administration has worked tirelessly to undermine it. As a consequence, the number of Americans without health insurance increased for the first time in a decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The president has also added administrative burdens to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. More than 1 million children in the United States have since lost their coverage — the first enrollment decline since 2009.
One of Trump’s first executive actions upon taking office was to rescind protections allowing transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity. He rolled back protections for trans Americans in the health care system, the workplace, homeless shelters, and prisons. And of course, there’s the policy banning transgender people from serving in the military. But it’s not only transgender folks who’ve been affected by Trump’s constant assault on LGBTQ+ rights. He has promised religious adoption agencies to help ban same-sex couples from adopting, and directed the State Department to deny visas to the same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats.
Earlier this year, the administration issued new regulations for Title X, the federal grant program that offers low-income people family-planning services and other types of reproductive health care. Known by critics as the “domestic gag rule,” the new framework prohibits health providers from discussing abortion care if they receive Title X funds. As a consequence, Planned Parenthood and a slate of independent health providers pulled out of the program, leaving some of the most vulnerable communities at risk of losing health care.