Monday, April 24, 2017

National origin discrimination laws don’t matter in Trump’s America

Last week, President Trump signed his “Buy American, Hire American“ Executive Order. The EO encourages American businesses to buy American-made products and hire American workers.

Come again? Does that say hire American workers? Doesn’t Title VII prohibit national origin discrimination?

Yes, Title VII still prohibits national origin discrimination. And, no, this Executive Order does nothing to change Title VII’s impact. But the manner in which the White House is promoting this EO is … curiously disturbing.

If you read the fine print—that is, the actual language of the Executive Order—you learn that #HireAmerican isn’t really “Hire American”, but instead it’s “hire any American citizen or anyone else legally authorized to work in the United States under our current immigration laws.” 

But that’s not how the White House is promoting this Order. It’s being promoted as #HireAmerican, which sends a certain signal to certain xenophobically and/or racistly inclined Americans, who might use this Executive Order to discriminate on the basis of national origin, or race, or religion. “Trump says Hire American, so I’m not hiring that one with the turban, or hijab, or funny accent.” And that’s the exact type of discriminatory misconduct that Title VII is supposed to protect against. 

If President Trump wants stricter borders, and to restrict work visas available to foreign nationals, so be it. It’s his prerogative as the President of the United States. If you don’t like it, your remedy rests at the ballot box. However, the White House needs to be careful with its messaging. #HireAmerican sends the wrong message, and will do a whole lot more harm than good, by offering the ignorant and the uninformed a license to hate and discriminate.