Immigration, Race, Gender Issues Stole The Spotlight In 2017
2017 was a rollercoaster year for news, especially if you were a person of color, a transgender person, an immigrant, or a woman.
There were immigration crackdowns on the state and federal level. There were proposed policies targeting transgender public restroom use and military service. Debates on Confederate monuments and white supremacy led to longer discussions about race relations. To round off the year, a number of sexual harassment cases became public.
The Trump administration began to crack down on immigration through a number of executive orders. One banned travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries, leading to protests at airports across the country and intervention from the courts. Another order opened the door for more deportations.
The Texas Legislature passed a law cracking down on so-called “sanctuary cities.” Senate Bill 4 allows law enforcement officials to question the immigration status of a person they lawfully detain, with punishments for officials who don’t comply. Some of the law is in effect, while the rest awaits a court decision.
The fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is still in limbo, too. Congress has until March to come up with a legislative solution, or else the program winds down with nothing to replace it. Texas has the second largest number of DACA recipients living in the state and the worries were palpable in Tyler, where about a quarter of the city’s population is Latino.
More interviews on immigration policy from 2017:
- Enforcement-Only Immigration Policies Are 'Inadequate,' Says Conservative Latino Leader
- In Order To Carry Out Policy, ICE Needs 'Realistic' Guidance, Says Former Director
- For East Texas DACA Recipients, 'Tyler Is Home'
- MALDEF Vows To Fight 'Vigilante Justice Bill' After Texas Sues Over SB 4
Policies Targeting Transgender People
There was also a bill in the state legislature regulating which public restrooms transgender people could use. That led to opposition not only from the LGBTQ community, but also from business groups, companies and some faith leaders. Contention over that and other proposed bills pushed the Legislature into a special session in the summer, but it didn't become law.
Also this summer, President Trump tweeted he wanted to ban transgender troops from serving in the military. The tweets ultimately didn’t become policy; the Pentagon this month said transgender people would be allowed to serve.
More interviews on transgender issues from 2017:
- Texas' Only Openly Transgender Mayor On Critics: 'That's What The Delete Button Is For'
- Transgender Veteran Reflects On Life As A Marine, Her Transition And Trump's Tweets
Racial issues played out in a lot of ways this year. The deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August raised again the issue of whether Confederate monuments should remain standing.
There was debate on both sides: Some said the monuments should stay because they represent history, and others said they skew history and celebrate a time when slavery was legal.
But even though civil rights have come a long way in the last century, some attitudes haven’t changed. For years, 90-year-old Opal Lee of Fort Worth has campaigned to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. On that day in 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston with the news that slavery ended – two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The day also has personal significance for Lee; when she was a child, a mob of white protesters drove her family from their Fort Worth home.
Brian Williams treated three of the Dallas officers who died in the July 7 shootings last year. He made headlines when he became emotional at a press conference. He quit his job this summer, and discussed some of the overt and covert racism he faced in medicine.
In the NFL, a number of football players kneeled during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, which drew criticism from some fans — and President Trump. Research found that opinions on anthem protests differed by race.
More interviews on race from 2017:
- Meet The Retiring Denton County Judge Who Won't Do Gay Marriages, Fought Bathroom Bill
- The Debate On Confederate Symbols, From The Perspective Of A Confederate Daughter
- What The Mayor's Task Force Says Dallas Should Do With Its Confederate Symbols
- Remembering Juneteenth Is 'Not Just A Black Thing,' Says Fort Worth's Opal Lee
- A Life-Changing Moment: A Year After The Dallas Shootings, Trauma Surgeon Quits His Job
- Even College Students Have A Racial Divide On NFL Players 'Taking A Knee' During Anthem
The year began — and ended — with women speaking out. The day after President Trump's inauguration in January, thousands of Texans took part in women's marches as part of a nationwide demonstration. By the waning months of 2017, sexual harassment became the topic of every U.S. workplace.
Allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein led to a domino effect in major industries. Congressmen resigned, actors and heads of newsroom lost jobs, and we learned some new terms, such as "whisper network" and "open secret."
Women also began sharing their stories of harassment online with the #MeToo hashtag. Tarana Burke started the campaign in 2007 to help victims of sexual harassment and assault.
More interviews on sexual harassment from 2017: