The Mass Exodus of Government Workers Who Refuse to Aid and Abet the Trump Administration’s Dismantling of Programs That Defined America for Generations

Foreign Service Officer Describes How the Trump Administration’s Immoral Refugee Policies Led Her to Relinquish Her Post.

By Marc A. Rapaport
August 30, 2019

Trump Administration Debases Poem at the Base of the Statue of LibertyIn the August 26, 2019 edition of the New York Times, Foreign Service Officer Bethany Milton describes the soul-searching process that led her to conclude that she could no longer, in good conscience, carry out the Trump Administration’s immoral immigration policies. Ms. Milton, who served as a Foreign Service Officer in Rwanda, provides a heartrending description of the cruel results caused by the Trump Administration’s reversal of America’s longstanding practice of granting refugee status to victims of sexual violence. Ms. Milton rhetorically asks, “Do the countless good things you do in your job outweigh telling a 14-year-old victim of sexual violence that her path to refugee status, wide open on Jan. 19, 2017, is now closed?”

In prior columns published on this website and elsewhere, I have described how nativist hate groups that were once properly relegated to the ugly fringes of society are now at the forefront of implementing this administration’s white supremacist immigration policies. For years, the Anti-Defamation League has warned that nativist anti-immigration groups, such as NUMBERS USA, FAIR, and the CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES (CIS), have helped normalize stereotyping and hateful rhetoric regarding immigrants. According to the Anti-Defamation League, these anti-immigration groups use the same dog-whistles as more militant and explicitly racist hate groups. Tragically, these groups now pull the strings of the Trump Administration’s callous immigration policies.

During the two torturous years of the Trump administration, countless career government workers have left their positions in government rather than participate in the dismantling of programs that are essential to protecting the environment, preventing discrimination in the workplace, and sustaining the social safety net that protects the most vulnerable Americans. Many of these workers faithfully served our nation under both Democratic and Republican administrations. For the most part, they have quietly gone into early retirement or found positions in the private sector. But the courageous few, such as Ms. Milton, have publicly shared their anguished realization that working for this administration requires aiding and abetting cruelty and the dismantling of America’s most cherished ideals. They refuse to pay the moral price required to keep their jobs.

It will likely take years, if not decades, to determine the true scope of workers, at all levels of government, who fled from this administration. In 2018, EcoWatch reported that more than 1,600 workers left the EPA since Trump took office. The Washingtonian quoted a Department of Education worker who described the emotional torture of working for an administration that was trying to dismantle programs that were implemented to protect students. The worker lamented: “It’s really hard—we’re doing a lot to undo protections and putting students and borrowers at risk, and you hope a lot of it will be re-regulated when this administration leaves power.

Marc Rapaport is a New York Employment Lawyer who has spent the last twenty years representing immigrant workers and other employees who are exploited in the workplace. Marc has decided not to remain silent in the face of the Trump administration’s policies that dismantle protection of the environment, marginalize immigrants, and inflict countless other wounds on the soul of our great nation.