I’m giving the floor this newsletter to Justin Salhani. He’s a world reporter covering human rights for ThinkProgress and a contributing editor of Latterly. I put some questions to him about Trump’s first month in office.

What do you think he’s done that’s going to affect people most negatively?

Most negatively — deport people. This crackdown on undocumented immigrants will send people to very harrowing situations and will tear apart families. Though let’s be clear, Obama was also known as the “deporter in chief.” That being said, whereas Obama had an end goal in mind that involved reforming immigration laws and giving a platform for many undocumented immigrants to stay, this is something Trump campaigned on and his end goal seems to be to simply remove people from the U.S. Furthermore, with the, frankly, white nationalist ideology of people like Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Jeff Sessions behind him, Trump’s deportations seem to be driven by the fact people do not fit a radically conservative view of what it means to be American.

Is there anything positive he’s done in terms of international relations or global security?

Short answer? No. It’s still too early to tell. But I think there are a few global events that aren’t that great of a coincidence — including the renewed violence in parts of Ukraine. His murky ties to Russia appear to have emboldened the Kremlin there. There are a number of key issues that the actions of the Trump administration may have a real impact on, including but not limited to: the South China Sea, Israel and Palestine, the Philippines, and Syria.

You’ve talked to a lot of experts who say Trump has authoritarian tendencies. What are those characteristics?

He comes from a business where what he said was implemented. I think it seems he expected being president would be similar. Among things he’s done: He’s attempted to delegitimize the press, cast aspersions over the legitimacy and authority of certain judges and courts, he’s threatened to publish a list of crimes by “illegal immigrants” (a very common tactic used by European nativist parties), and he’s doing it all with a Republican Party that, for the exception of a few key figures, are failing to regulate his behavior and dismissal of liberal democratic norms.

Have you seen anything — events, movements or statements — that give you hope?

I’m not sure. The question is hope for what? I think that the furor around Trump’s presidency is having some positive effects in that people are actually learning how government works. A lot of the opposition to Trump is based on solid grounds, but it is also based on an emotional rejection to him as a man (which is natural considering the dangerous rhetoric he has used and continues to use). My hope is that even when a Democrat or less repulsive Republican is in power, people will watch the decisions the leader makes closely and criticize inhumane policies no matter who is in office.

Here’s what we’re following:

  • Our most-read story this week was that of Rosa Maria Ortega, a mother of four stripped of her freedom for a simple mistake.
  • If you want to help her children, her lawyer has created a GoFundMe page. It looks like the campaign could use a nudge.
  • These are dark times for humanitarians, but Ambika Samarthya-Howard has some advice.
  • Case in point: Amnesty International documented 64 cases of repression against civil society in Thailand. Ashley Okwuosa reports on the military government’s intolerance of criticism.

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Have a great weekend, everyone.


Ben Wolford
Ben Wolford is editor of Latterly. His reporting has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, The Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere.