LOS ANGELES – The federal government announced today that it has rescinded policy guidance issued by the Obama administration to foster diversity in elementary and secondary schools and on college campuses. Please attribute the following statement to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund):
“Feeding his seemingly insatiable fetish for white nationalism, Donald Trump – acting through his two most incompetent cabinet members, Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions – today abandoned wise and well-informed guidance on affirmative action in university admissions and on racial integration in elementary and secondary schools, issued by the Obama administration, in favor of yet more politicized firecrackers for the alt-right. By reverting to guidance that discourages strong efforts toward racial integration and toward greater inclusion of Latinos and African Americans at prestigious, flagship universities, and doing so on the day before a national holiday, the Education and Justice Departments seek solely to catch the attention of delusional torch carriers, who are once again emboldened in their absurd and racist paranoia by Trump’s actions as president.
“In fact, it should be no surprise to anyone that an openly racist, anti-Latino president would seek to discourage efforts to be more inclusive at universities. Much of the recent activity to challenge affirmative action admissions practices has been focused on the growing Latino community – witness the Fisher case at the University of Texas and Proposition 209 in California. These efforts, in litigation and legislation, intentionally target two states with large and growing Latino student populations. Rapidly growing nationwide, the Latino community and its quest for equal educational opportunity threaten white privilege, with which Donald Trump has a lifelong affinity. Today’s move is therefore not unexpected. Its timing, of course, is pernicious, and it is designed to encourage others to abandon important equal opportunity efforts.
“However, the effect of today’s actions – beyond further exposing Trump and Sessions for the kind of people they are – should be minimal, and we all must work to ensure that that is the case. Today’s action does not change the law at all. The Supreme Court has been very clear that narrowly-tailored consideration of race (and the effects of ongoing racial discrimination) in admissions is constitutionally permissible in the service of diversity and in service of remedying racial discrimination. Military and corporate leaders have expressed their strong support for diversity and affirmative action in university admissions. Smart educators will therefore dismiss today’s effort as a regrettable indication of this administration’s failings, and continue to work assiduously to create a more equal educational system.”