In Response to Hurricane Harvey, Pardoning Arpaio and the Transgender Military Ban

Over the weekend, thousands of people from Houston and surrounding areas were forced to find emergency shelter as a result of Hurricane Harvey. As the flooding continues, poor communities of color are hit the hardest. Disaster historian Jacob Remes summed it up:

“We will hear claims about how disasters don’t discriminate by race or class. This is a lie. Because disasters are social, they do. Disasters replicate and worsen the social cleavages and inequalities that preexisted them.” 

Undocumented and mixed status families may have been particularly hesitant to evacuate because Customs and Border Patrol kept immigration checkpoints open until state highways started to close. Our thoughts are with the residents of Houston and surrounding areas that continue to be flooded by Hurricane Harvey. Please see the links below for ways to help.

While the storm was bearing down on Texas, President Trump pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt after defying federal court orders to stop detaining Arizona residents solely on the basis of suspected immigration violations. Arpaio used outdoor detention tent cities that he called “concentration camps” and publicly shamed and abused Latino detainees. President Trump called Arpaio an “American patriot,” commending his “years of admirable service.” This is the first time in history that a president has pardoned someone for “using state power toward racist ends.”

On Friday, President Trump also signed a directive banning transgender individuals from serving in the military. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the ban, which has been met with bi-partisan condemnation.

In the Bay Area, weekend rallies in San Francisco and Berkeley brought residents together to condemn white supremacy, including Trump’s Friday actions.  The inhumane treatment of marginalized communities is appalling, and we will continue to advocate for basic human rights nationally and in our own community. In the spirit of solidarity against racism and hate emanating from the White House, here are a few helpful resources and ways to take action.

Defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program: Organizations like United We Dream are fighting to keep the DACA intact, as the Trump Administration considers killing the program. Go to for elected officials to call and information you can share on social media.

Help hurricane victims:

Fight anti-transgender discrimination: In addition to supporting the ACLU’s lawsuit, check out has state-by-state actions and information you can share on social media.