Trump Administration Refuses to Renew Domestic Terrorism Prevention Program
Just days after the worst act of deadly anti-Semitic violence in American history — the murder of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh — it’s come to light that the Trump administration doesn’t plan to renew funding to Department of Homeland Security programs aimed at combating domestic terrorism and white supremacist violence.
During his second term, President Obama created the Countering Violent Extremism grant program to be administered by the Department of Homeland Security. The initiative planned to contribute roughly $10 million to programs across the country in an effort to counter homegrown terrorism and white radicalism.
But the grants were temporarily withheld after Trump entered the White House. When funding was eventually dispersed, several grants were never handed out — including money for the only group explicitly focused on countering the spread of white supremacist ideology, Life After Hate.
Now, however, the Trump administration appears to have no intention to renew the grant program at all.
George Selim, a former DHS official who oversaw the program, says, “What we’ve lost here is the creation of infrastructure to prevent the threats of the future.”
Former DHS senior official John Cohen laments the declining focus on domestic terrorism. “We know what the problem is … it’s happening on a regular basis in this country. We’re just not doing enough to stop it,” he says.
Given the recent high-profile acts of right-wing domestic terrorism — not just the Pittsburgh attack, but also the mail bomber — such a move couldn’t possibly seem more out of touch with reality. Media attention notwithstanding, data shows that domestic terrorism and white supremacist violence has seen an uptick in recent years.
But it is a stretch to say this move is rooted in the Trump administration’s ignorance; it’s entirely deliberate.
In September, reports surfaced that the Trump administration had reallocated $9.8 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a DHS agency, to Immigration and Customs Enforcement just ahead of Hurricane Florence.
It was also discovered that the White House had moved over $200 million in funding from a variety of other DHS agencies in order to support the exploding expenses incurred by ICE for deportations and jail operations. It would be hardly surprising if this was also a justification for ending the DHS domestic counter-terrorism grant program.
In a sense, Trump is killing two birds with one stone by gutting domestic terrorism prevention programs and boosting ICE funding. Not only does this help continue this administration’s anti-immigrant campaign, but by taking the heat off of white nationalists, the decision also boosts his current support base: the radical right.
If this last point might sound like a stretch, let’s recall when Trump decided to dispense with pretenses by openly calling himself a “nationalist” at a rally last year. But that’s hardly the first time he’s pandered to the radical right — whether it’s calling the neo-Nazi demonstrators at last year’s deadly Charlottesville rally “very fine people” or employing anti-Semitic people in his administration.
Trump knows he’s rapidly losing support from centrist Republicans, and he’s decided to play to his most loyal supporters: white supremacists.
Originally published at https://www.care2.com.