Professor Catherine Powell co-authored an op-ed for Just Security regarding women rights under the Trump administration.
We do not know yet whether 2018 will be the “year of the woman” in the midterm elections, but it’s worth reflecting on one of several particularly low points for women’s rights this past year. President Donald Trump’s policy of separating parents crossing the southern border from their children opened a new front in his efforts to demonize immigrants – using not only racial stereotypes, but also gender tropes.
Even before he took office, he announced a travel ban on Muslims and labeled Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists.
Since his inauguration, Trump has continued to make blanket generalizations, referring for example to Haiti and African countries as “sh*thole” countries.
And now, Trump is stoking racial fears with unsubstantiated, baseless claims that “unknown Middle Easterners” are marching in a “migrant caravan” toward the U.S. southern border from Central America and Mexico.
Instead of merely stoking racial fears about troubles caused by brown immigrants, Trump has tapped into Americans’ fear of fertile brown mothers as a drain on the state. In short, he has updated the “welfare queen” trope that President Ronald Reagan used to disparage black women in the 1980s.
According to the stereotype, irresponsible black women have too many babies in order to extract a steady welfare check from the government.