OurWeek In Politics (3/25-4/1/18)

Here are the main events that occurred in Politics this week:
1. US Expels 60 Russian diplomats in Response to UK nerve agent attack

The Trump Administration ordered the expulsion of 60 Russia diplomats this week, signaling a harder line approach to Russia.

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

The Trump Administration proposed adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census this week, sparking protest from states such as New York and California.

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

Major protests broke out along the Israel-Gaza border this week, resulting in the deaths of 16 and international outcry against Israeli policies.

On March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip participated in non-violent protests as part of the Great Return March. Palestinian participants soon began walking towards the fence that separates the strip from Israel and were met with live fire from the Israeli military that saw hundreds of people injured and 16 killed.

The protests were held to commemorate Land Day and demonstrate for the rights of Palestinian refugees to be resettled in Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Secretary Avigdor Lieberman responded to the protests by claiming that Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, had sent women and children to the fence as human shields. Rather than expressing the grievances of Palestinians at large, the protests were to be seen in the context of long-standing tensions between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

The Israeli response drew widespread criticism around the world, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling for an independent inquiry into Friday’s events. Additionally, several countries in the Middle East condemned the response to the protests by the Israeli government. Perhaps the country that most forcefully condemned the actions of Israel was Iran. In a Twitter post on March 31, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif stated that “On the eve of Passover (of all days), which commemorates God liberating Prophet Moses and his people from tyranny, Zionist tyrants murder peaceful Palestinian protesters – whose land they have stolen – as they march to escape their cruel and inhuman apartheid bondage.” On the other hand, the US blocked a UN Resolution denouncing the Israeli response and placed the blame squarely on the part of the Palestinian protestors.

the author

Matt is a student at Seton Hall Law School and graduated from Monmouth University. Matt has been studying and analyzing politics at all levels since the 2004 Presidential Election. He writes about political trends and demographics, the role of the media in politics, comparative politics, political theory, and the domestic and international political economy. Matt is also interested in history, philosophy, comparative religion, and record collecting.

No comments yet.

HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?