TIME

12 ways Trump has deepened inequality

THE LONG FIGHT TOWARD EQUALITY IN THE U.S. IS OFTEN recounted by listing banner acts of Congress and the Supreme Court. Every child learns about the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But behind those bright headlines, another, less flashy battle for civil rights unfolds. In Executive Orders and court appointments and in the great, hulking machinery of the U.S. regulatory state, presidential administrations have outsize influence over how laws and federal programs are structured, implemented and enforced. While those administrative decisions often take effect without fanfare, they determine how public policy actually works. Who receives benefits and whether marginalized groups truly get equal protection under the law are shaped by the bureaucratic details of rulemaking and lower court injunctions.

For decades, these powerful levers of the federal administrative state have been used to keep people oppressed. Even as Black Americans were waging and winning battles in the civil rights movement during the 1950s and ’60s, federal rules prevented them from accessing the same benefits afforded white citizens. A Depression-era pair of federal programs designed to promote homeownership were implemented in a way that effectively excluded Black people from accessing loans. The postwar GI Bill followed a similar path: while lifting millions of white veterans into the middle class by helping them access college and buy homes, the way the law was implemented effectively prevented thousands of Black servicemen from obtaining the same.

Trump’s Administration has been characterized by a similar disconnect. Trump claims to have done more than anyone else for the Black community, citing a low Black unemployment

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