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Opinion: Trump's 100 Days Shows Latinos Are in for a Rough Ride

Based on almost 100 days of President Trump Latinos better buckle up. It’s going to be a rough ride, says contributing opinion writer and political scholar Victoria DeFrancesco Soto.
Image: Trump speaks at Snap-On Tools in Kenosha
President Donald Trump speaks at Snap-On Tools on April 18, 2017, in Kenosha, Wis.Kiichiro Sato / AP

Based on almost 100 days of President Trump, Latinos better buckle up, it’s going to be a rough ride.

The first 100 days of a presidency sets the tone and lays out the policy road map of the administration. In the weeks after taking office President Trump has set his administration on course for fulfilling its promises.

The biggies on the campaign trail were cracking down on immigration, law and order and repealing Obamacare.

We’ve yet to see a big, "beautiful" wall, a more punishing criminal justice system or the repeal of Obamacare. But the critical pieces have been put into place.

The cabinet Trump has named, together with the executive orders he has signed and his legislative agenda, have set him on course to make good on his promises.

That the Trump administration was going to go after “the Illegals” was a given. It was Donald Trump’s marquee issue since he launched his campaign in June of 2015. Days after taking office President Trump issued an executive order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, an all around get-tough-on-immigration order.

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There’s a lot of beefing up of border enforcement and tough talk. But the two key take homes from this executive order are that they withhold federal funds to sanctuary cities and revive a dormant program (287g) that deputizes local law enforcement to carry out ICE duties.

Right around the same time, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has undertaken an enforcement sweep. Targeted immigration enforcement surges were not uncommon under the Obama administration but they were focused on criminal aliens. Now, targets are Dreamers and Latina moms who have been here for decades.

The "get-tough" immigration tactics have had real repercussions in communities where Hispanics feel they are in the crosshairs, resulting in less economic activity and involvement.

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One hundred days in, President Trump and his Attorney General have successfully accomplished one thing, set the tone of fear within minority communities.

And to implement this "law and order" vision, Trump chose Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General — a man who believes that more jails, longer sentences and less discretion for judges is a good thing.

The last wave of get-tough on crime measures ended up disproportionately targeting blacks and Latinos; this time around won’t be the exception. Never mind that research shows that criminal justice reform lowers incarceration rates helps decrease crime and makes good fiscal sense.

The Attorney General has made clear what his focus is — law and order and a dismissal of protections regarding the defense of civil and voting rights.

Soon after taking office, Attorney General Sessions dropped the federal government’s case against Texas for violating minority voting rights with its strict photo voter ID law, even though a judge recently ruled "that Republican lawmakers deliberately designed a strict voter ID law to disadvantage minorities and effectively dampen their growing electoral power," according to NBC News.

Then there’s the apprehension about the fate of our healthcare system. Latinos make up the largest group without health insurance. But between 2013 and 2015 after the implementation of Obamacare, Latinos saw the steepest decline in uninsured rates - from 26 percent to 17 percent.

Obamacare might not be perfect and it needs work, but because of it, millions of Latinos who previously did not have health insurance now do. And there's still work to do - millions more still need it. Latinos together with Native Americans continue to have the highest rates of uninsured non-elderly Americans.

But President Trump has supported his party’s quest to repeal - not improve - Obamacare.

There was an initial attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act during the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. It was a terrible plan and it got tabled, but there are still 566 days until the next midterm election.

The Republican Party has been promising a repeal of Obamacare for eight years now without any strong alternatives and no desire to get to a viable bipartisan plan. This means that we can be pretty certain that the GOP will repeal Obamacare, especially while it has control of the White House and Congress. So the outlook on better health outcomes for Latinos is grim.

As a candidate, Donald Trump never minced words. He was clear about what he wanted to do as President.

There was always a glimmer of hope that once in office President Trump would not pursue what he promised. After close to 100 days we now know that Trump intends to live up to his words.

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