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'Grave concerns' over the Trump administration's view toward civil rights prompts new investigation

David Choi

Donald Trump Jeff Sessions

(President Donald Trump talks with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
An independent, bipartisan federal commission tasked with advising President Donald Trump and Congress on civil-rights issues approved a two-year investigation that will examine how the Trump administration's "current budgets and staffing levels allow civil rights offices to perform,” NBC News reported Friday.

The United States Commission on Civil Rights unanimously approved an investigation, citing concerns about the impacts that budget cuts and staffing shortages could have on agencies designed to uphold civil-rights protections

The investigation was prompted after funding and personnel cuts were announced, some as high as 23%, in departments that oversee civil-rights issues.

"These proposed cuts would result in a dangerous reduction of civil rights enforcement across the country, leaving communities of color, LGBT people, older people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups exposed to greater risk of discrimination," the statement said.

"For 60 years, Congress has charged the Commission to monitor Federal civil rights enforcement and recommend necessary change," said commission chair Catherine Lhamon. "We take this charge seriously, and we look forward to reporting our findings to Congress, the President, and the American people."

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The United States Commission on Civil Rights listed seven entities for their concern, including the Department of Education, Department of Justice, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Actions by the [Department of Justice] indicate it is minimizing its civil rights efforts," the statement said. "For example, a majority of the Commission criticized DOJ’s decision to site Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers in courthouses as a dangerous impediment to access to justice for all Americans."

Ultimately, the power to enforce any changes made after the investigation will be in the hands of Congress, according to NBC. The commission is scheduled to report their findings at the end of 2019.

Read the full complaint here »

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