By Alan Zibel
Virtually every corner of the Trump administration is developing policies that harm children and their futures.
Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. government has separated migrant children from their parents, placed kids in cages, shipped children to a tent city in the desert, sprayed them with tear gas and allowed them to appear in court alone.
But Trump’s anti-child policies are not limited to immigrants. They are emblematic of an administration that seems determined not to let the lives of children get in the way of its far-right corporate agenda.
In a recent report, “Mr. Trump’s Unsafe Neighborhood,” Public Citizen compiled a list of 33 Trump administration policies that put children at risk, as part of an ongoing effort to spotlight corporate influence over the administration.
From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the U.S. Department of Education, the report found that the Trump administration is churning out policies that would undermine the health, safety and economic well-being of America’s children and their parents.
Below are 10 examples of how Trump has harmed America’s kids:
Tried to cut off funding for a teen pregnancy prevention program: The Trump administration wanted to defund a program that uses evidence-based initiatives to reduce teen pregnancy rates. Public Citizen filed two lawsuits to block the government from illegally terminating the programs years ahead of schedule. We scored a big win after a federal court blocked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from canceling of dozens of grants awarded under the congressionally mandated program. Status: Kids Win!
Tried to get rid of families’ health care: The White House and Republican lawmakers tried and failed to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act and has worked to harm children and families by slashing spending on advertising for Obamacare sign-ups. The health care law spurred parents who were newly eligible for health care to sign up their children for health care programs for low-income kids. Status: Partial Victory.
Refused to ban a pesticide that causes brain damage in kids: Trump’s EPA refused to ban chlorpyrifos, a brain-damaging pesticide sold by Dow Chemical Co., which contributed $1 million to Trump’s inauguration and whose CEO met with Trump several times. Though a federal appeals court has ordered the EPA to ban the pesticide, the Trump administration hasn’t stopped carrying water for chemical companies and agriculture giants. Status: In Limbo.
Left undocumented children and young adults in the lurch: Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has curbed enforcement of immigration laws against undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. Though Trump claimed to want to protect the Dreamers, he demanded that legislation include anti-immigrant measures such as his unnecessary border wall proposal. As a result, the issue remains unresolved – and about 800,000 Dreamers remain in uncertain about their future. Status: In Limbo.
Undermined efforts to improve the quality of school lunches: The Trump administration rolled back the Obama administration’s efforts to serve more nutritious foods to students. Instead, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue did the food industry’s bidding by weakening a requirement for whole grain bread, delaying sodium limits and allowing schools to serve sweetened milk, despite concerns about obesity and poor health among kids. Status: Kids Lose.
Ousted the top EPA official for children’s health: The Trump administration placed Dr. Ruth Etzel, director of the EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection, on administrative leave in September. Etzel, a pediatrician and renowned child health expert, told CNN she suspected that she was ousted because the administration objected to a major lead poisoning report nearing completion. Status: Kids Lose.
Faked concern about school shootings: Trump did nothing after 17 high school students were gunned down in Parkland, Fla. Instead of taking action to make schools safer, Trump proposed to arm teachers. The Education Department set up a sham commission to study school safety issues but chose to ignore the role of guns in school violence. Status: Kids Lose.
Nixed protections for transgender students: Only a month after taking office, Trump rescinded an Obama-era position allowing transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Status: Kids Lose.
Put young nursing home workers at risk: The Trump administration has proposed to repeal a policy that protects 16- and 17-year-old nursing assistants from being injured in nursing homes and health care jobs. Status: In Limbo.
Pushed to let teenage farm workers handle pesticides: The Trump administration has sought comments on whether to repeal an Obama-era requirement barring children under 18 from handling pesticides on farms. This limitation, enacted in 2015, is one of the few national regulations on child farm labor and is especially important because early exposure to pesticides can cause cancer and neurological damage. Status: In Limbo.
“The interests of the largest U.S. corporations are far more important to the Trump administration than the health, safety and well-being of America’s children,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. “The Trump administration has turned cruelty to children into official U.S. government policy.”