Here are the main events that occurred in Politics this week:
1. US Expels 60 Russian diplomats in Response to UK nerve agent attack
On March 26, President Donald Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats the US identified as intelligence agents and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle. President Trump took this action after the US joined the United Kingdom in accusing Russia of attempting to murder a Russian dissident and his daughter using a nerve agent on UK soil. The action comes just two weeks after the Trump administration leveled the first sanctions against Russia for its interference in the 2016 US presidential election.”The United States takes this action in conjunction with our NATO allies and partners around the world in response to Russia’s use of a military-grade chemical weapon on the soil of the United Kingdom, the latest in its ongoing pattern of destabilizing activities around the world,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
British Prime Minister Theresa May called the move “the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history.”We have no disagreement with the Russian people who have achieved so much through their country’s great history. But President Putin’s regime is carrying out acts of aggression against our shared values,” she said. “The United Kingdom will stand shoulder to shoulder with the EU and NATO to face down these threats.” As expected, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced the actions on the part of the US and the UK, arguing that they are in violation of international law and will only worsen the already tense relationship between Russia and the West. As a retaliatory measure, the Russian government ordered the expulsion of 60 US diplomats and ordered the closure of the US Consulate in St. Petersburg for the foreseeable future.
2. Trump Administration Proposes Putting Question on 2020 US Census Asking Individuals Their Citizenship Status
On March 26, senior officials in the Trump Administration announced that The 2020 census will ask respondents whether they are United States citizens, the Commerce Department announced Monday night, agreeing to a Trump administration request with highly charged political and social implications that many officials feared would result in a substantial undercount. The Justice Department had requested the change in December, arguing that asking participants about their citizenship status in the decennial census would help enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which aims to prevent voting rights violations. “Citizenship questions have also been included on prior decennial censuses,” explained officials. “Between 1820 and 1950, almost every decennial census asked a question on citizenship in some form. Today, surveys of sample populations, such as the Current Population Survey and the ACS, continue to ask a question on citizenship.”
Opponents of the citizenship question have argued in the past that it causes people to shy away from taking the census, and experts believe a drop in numbers could lead to an inaccurate count of the US population. “The inclusion of a question on citizenship threatens to undermine the accuracy of the Census as a whole,” wrote Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA.) and her colleagues in an open letter sent to the Justice Department in January. “Given this administration’s rhetoric and actions relating to immigrants and minority groups, the citizen question request is deeply troubling,” they said. “Such a question would likely depress participation in the 2020 Census from immigrants who fear the government could use the information to target them. It could also decrease response rates from U.S. citizens who live in mixed-status households, and who might fear putting immigrant family members at risk through providing information to the government” said Feinstein and her colleagues in the letter.
In response to the proposed changes, 17 states announced that they would bring suit against the Trump Administration. Led by New York and California, the leadership in the 17 states feel that this proposal would negatively impact the distribution of federal resources to states with large populations of undocumented immigrants and place an unfair advantage to the Republican Party in terms of redistricting efforts after 2020. “The census numbers provide the backbone for planning how our communities can grow and thrive in the coming decade,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “California simply has too much to lose for us to allow the Trump Administration to botch this important decennial obligation. What the Trump Administration is requesting is not just alarming, it is an unconstitutional attempt to discourage an accurate census count.”
3. Protests Erupt Gaza in Opposition to the Continued Israeli Occupation of Palestine