President-Elect Trump’s New Deal for Black America

By Faye M. Anderson
Volume 27, Number 2 (Winter 2017)
Issue theme: "Importing diseases"

I m a registered independent who voted for Donald Trump. I support President-elect Trump for two reasons: illegal immigration and urban renewal.

I grew up in the inner city in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. In a campaign speech, Trump outlined his agenda for America’s inner cities:

One of the greatest betrayals has been the issue of immigration. Illegal immigration violates the civil rights of African Americans. No group has been more economically harmed by decades of illegal immigration than low-income African American workers.

Studies show the adverse impact of illegal immigration on low-skilled workers. But my opposition to illegal immigration can be summed up in three words: rule of law. I am a lifelong activist who has fought for social justice within our legal framework. It is offensive that people who sneak across the border or overstay their visa draw an analogy between their illegal act and African Americans’ struggle for full citizenship.

On January 20, 2017, President Trump will reassert the rule of law. With a stroke of his pen, he will reverse many of President Obama’s executive actions, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and Lawful Permanent Residents. These extralegal actions were intended to shield illegal immigrants from the consequences of violating America’s immigration laws. During his “60 Minutes” interview, Trump promised:

What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.

A number of mayors, including Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel, New York’s Bill de Blasio, and San Francisco’s Ed Lee, have vowed to resist Trump’s deportation plan.Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is playing a name game.

By any name, Mayor Kenney is flouting federal law. At the same time, the New Sanctuary Movement is recruiting 1,000 volunteers to join them “in disrupting the raid and supporting the family being targeted.” Such actions run afoul of 18 U.S. Code §372,which penalizes persons who “interrupt, hinder, or impede” a federal officer from the discharge of his duties.

Trump should launch his Deportation Task Force in Philadelphia, the birthplace of our democracy. He would send a clear message that we, the American people, choose who comes here and who gets to stay. Faced with a cut-off of federal funds, Mayor Kenney’s resistance will melt like Philly’s favorite water ice.

Trump’s new deal for black America will create jobs:

We will empower cities and states to seek a federal disaster designation for blighted communities in order to initiate the rebuilding of vital infrastructure, the demolition of abandoned properties, and the increased presence of law enforcement.

Trump promises residents of inner cities will be major beneficiaries of his call for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending. For that to happen, however, he must undo Executive Order 13502, “Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects,” signed by President Obama on February 6, 2009. The order mandates project labor agreements(PLAs) on federal construction projects exceeding $25 million. PLAs effectively close construction projects to unionized contractors and union members. The building trade unions have a long history of excluding African Americans.

The 2016 Republican Platform calls for repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act, a relic of the Jim Crow era.

Passed during the Great Migration, Davis-Bacon was intended to prevent non-unionized black workers from competing with unionized white workers. The Act limits competition and “drives up construction and main-tenance costs for the benefit of unions.” Short of congressional repeal, Trump should waive the requirement that “local prevailing wages” be paid on federally funded or assisted projects. A Davis-Bacon waiver would increase job opportunities for skilled black workers and stretch federal infrastructure dollars.

Consider: On November 16, 2016, the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) celebrated the grand opening of 57 “affordable rental homes.”The construction cost was a whopping $416,666 per dwelling. The high cost is due to the local prevailing wages mandate, i.e., union wages. So rather than hire the lowest qualified bidder, PHA looks for the union label (only two percent of black-owned construction companies are unionized).

PHA receives most of its funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. An estimated 100,000 people are on PHA’s waitlist for affordable housing. It is obscene that the cost of constructing one unit of “affordable” housing is more than three times the median home value ($131,000) in Philadelphia.

Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing something over and over and expecting different results.” African Americans must stop the insanity. President-elect Trump’s agenda for black America offers a new deal.

About the author

Faye M. Anderson writes from Philadelphia and is a public policy consultant and historic preservationist.