• About HRLR
  • Issues
  • News
  • Contact
  • Submissions
  • HRLR Online

Trump Human Rights Tracker

With each day bringing fresh news of a damaging initiative by the President of the United States, it is difficult to keep up with all that the new Administration is doing that threatens human rights. To aid journalists, civil society organizations, and the general public, the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and Columbia Law School’s Rightslink, Human Rights Clinic, and Human Rights Institute have launched this regularly updated tool to keep track of Trump’s actions and their impacts on human rights. It summarizes the action taken by the President, identifies the human rights implications, and provides links to sources where readers can find more detailed analysis. Input from those using this tool is welcome at trumphumanrights@gmail.com.

Subscribe to the Trump Human Rights Tracker Mailing List.

Trump Human Rights Tracker

ActionDateExplanationHuman Rights ImplicationsSources and Further Info
Repealed a rule restricting coal companies from dumping mine waste in streamsFeb. 16, 2017Signed a bill undoing the Office of Surface Mining's Stream Protection Rule, a regulation to protect waterways from coal mining waste. With the rule’s cancellation, coal mining companies will now have a freer hand to dump toxic metals and debris into streams, activity that can have dire impacts for the environment and for the health of communities living nearby. Risks right to a healthy environment

Risks right to water

Risks right to health



The Hill
Cancelled a regulation requiring energy and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governmentsFeb. 14, 2017Signed a bill cancelling a Security Exchange Commission (SEC) transparency regulation that would have required oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose in detail payments made to foreign governments.

The now-cancelled regulation, implementing Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (also known as the Cardin-Luger anti-corruption provision), was intended to “combat global corruption and empower citizens of resource-rich countries to hold their governments accountable.”

As the United Nations has repeatedly recognized, corruption undermines all human rights, compromising a government’s ability to fulfill economic and social rights, introducing discrimination in access to governmental services, weakening democratic institutions, and impeding respect for the rule of law.
Undermines right to information

Undermines right to political participation

Undermines right to development
Oxfam America

Publish What You Pay USA

Washington Post



Rules at Risk

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Withdrew motion to stay in transgender students bathroom rights caseFeb. 10, 2017The Department of Justice withdrew a request to limit an injunction which blocked an Obama administration guidance that directs public schools to allow transgender students access to bathrooms and other gender-segregated facilities that match their gender identity.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which was set to hear oral arguments on the case, granted the request and cancelled oral arguments. The government’s withdrawal not only leaves the nationwide injunction in place, but signals a shift from the previous administration’s position to uphold the rights and protections of transgender students.

Note that the Supreme Court may have some guidance on the issue of legal protections for transgender students next month as it is set to hear arguments in a challenge brought by a transgender Virginia student against his school’s discriminatory bathroom policy.
Undermines right to non-discrimination

Undermines right to equality before the law

Undermines right to sanitation for all persons

Risks right to education (note particularly CESCR General Comment 13)

Undermines right to privacy

Risks right to security of the person
Human Rights Campaign

National Center for Transgender Equality


Huffington Post

N.Y. Times

Washington Post
Removal of Animal Welfare Reports from USDA websiteFeb. 3, 2017The US Department of Agriculture has removed a series of reports from its website regarding animal welfare inspections and enforcement that were previously used by journalists and advocacy groups to monitor the treatment of animals at commercial dog and horse breeding facilities and animal testing labs, including some with a history of abuse.

The decrease in transparency will substantially inhibit the efforts of animal welfare organizations to monitor and promote compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, and to participate in regulatory policy-making and reform.
Undermines right to information

Undermines right to participation
Humane Society

National Geographic

N.Y. Times

Science Magazine
Ban on entry to the US for citizens of Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya for 90 daysJan. 27, 2017Signed an Executive Order that immediately imposes a 90-day ban on the entry of nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for immigrant and nonimmigrant purposes.

The ban could be extended beyond the 90 days and to other countries.


On February 2, 2017, the ban was amended to allow for immigration by the families of Iraqi interpreters who served U.S. forces.

On February 9, 2017, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court ruling blocking key parts of the travel ban (at least pending further litigation), and allowing nationals of the seven affected countries with valid documentation the right to enter the country.
Violates right to non-discrimination

Threatens right to freedom of religion

Undermines right to education

Undermines right to family life
United Nations Secretary General

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

UN Special Rapporteurs on Racism, Torture, Counterterrorism, Migrants, and Religion


Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies & CLS Human Rights Clinic

Human Rights Watch

Amnesty International UK

Just Security (David Cole)

Just Security (Jay Shooster)
Ban on all refugees entering the US for 120 days

Indefinite ban on Syrian refugees
Jan. 27, 2017Signed an Executive Order that directs the Secretary of State to immediately suspend all refugee admissions to the United States for a period of 120 days, and to review with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence whether additional procedures should be taken.

The Executive Order also indefinitely prohibits entry of all Syrian refugees into the United States until President Trump determines sufficient changes have been made to the refugee admissions process.


On February 6, 2017, a coalition of more than 40 civil society organizations requested an emergency hearing on the Executive Order from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The letter to the Inter-American Commission can be found here.
Violates right of non-discrimination based on race, religion, or country of origin

Violates the right to seek and enjoy asylum

Violates principle of non-refoulement

Risks right to life of asylum seekers
United Nations Secretary General

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

UN Special Rapporteurs on Racism, Torture, Counterterrorism, Migrants, and Religion

Amnesty International

Human Rights Watch


Just Security (Jay Shooster)

Just Security (James C. Hathaway)

Opinio Juris

Al Jazeera

Just Security (Meg Satterthwaite & Alexandra Zetes)
Limitation of privacy rights for non US citizensJan. 25, 2017Signed an Executive Order that forces agencies to exclude from their privacy policies anyone who is not a US citizen or US permanent resident.

Contradicts and may damage the Privacy Shield agreement between the US and the EU; may therefore limit the ability of US companies to serve customers from the EU.
Undermines right to privacy of all non US citizens/non US residentsBrookings




Access Now
Seeks to block federal funding to sanctuary citiesJan. 25, 2017Signed an Executive Order to block Federal government funding for “sanctuary jurisdictions.” These are places where state and/or local government authorities have adopted formal or informal policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration officials. Risks due process rights

Risks right to personal liberty

Risks right to family life
Human Rights Watch

Immigration Legal Resource Center

N.Y. Times
Revived discredited “Secure Communities” program

Paved way for expanded immigration detention and deportation

Ordered the construction of a wall along the border with Mexico
Jan. 25, 2017Signed two Executive Orders (here and here) which revive a program of involving local police in the enforcement of immigration laws; expand indefinite detention of undocumented immigrants, including families, without evidence they pose any threat; increase removal proceedings for a broader class of immigrants charged with, yet not necessarily convicted of, crimes; and advance construction of a border wall with Mexico.


Since the signing of this Executive Order on January 25, immigration raids have been conducted in at least six states, leading to the arrest of hundreds of undocumented immigrants, including some with no criminal record.
Risks the right to freedom from arbitrary detention

Risks the right to freedom from discrimination

Risks due process rights

Risks right to freedom from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment

Risks the right to seek and enjoy asylum

Interferes with the fulfillment of economic and social rights
Immigration Legal Resource Center


Center for Constitutional Rights

Human Rights Watch

Advanced construction of previously halted Dakota Access & Keystone PipelinesJan. 24, 2017Signed a Presidential Memorandum inviting re-applications for the Keystone pipeline, which had been suspended in 2015, and instructs federal agencies to expedite approval.

Signed a Presidential Memorandum instructing federal agencies to review and expedite requests for approvals to construct and operate the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was halted in 2016 after indigenous groups protested its construction, and for failure to adequately consider the pipeline’s impact on the environment and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Undermines indigenous rights

Undermines right to culture

Risks right to water

Risks right to health

Risks right to healthy environment
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Amnesty International USA

Sierra Club

Al Jazeera

Reinstated and broadened “global gag” ruleJan. 23, 2017Signed a Presidential Memorandum blocking federal funding for international NGOs or programs that provide information, counseling, or referrals for abortion services, provide abortion services, or advocate for a woman’s right to seek abortion services as part of comprehensive reproductive health care.Undermines women’s rights

Risks women’s right to health

Risks women’s right to life
Center for Reproductive Rights

Planned Parenthood

Naral Pro-Choice America


Human Rights Watch

Comments are closed.

Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual
The HRLR publishes and sells A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual (“the JLM”), a legal resource produced to assist prisoners and others in negotiating the U.S. legal system. With thirty-six chapters on legal rights and procedures including the appellate process, federal habeas corpus relief, the Prison Litigation Reform Act, religious freedom in prison, the rights of prisoners with disabilities, and many more, the JLM is a major legal reference for prisoners and libraries across the country. The HRLR publishes this critical resource and delivers it to some of those individuals whose rights are most threatened in our judicial system yet who often have no access to legal assistance. Our students deliver over a thousand JLMs every year to prisoners, institutions, libraries, and organizations. We also publish a Spanish version of the JLM to serve as a resource to Spanish-language prisoners. Finally, the JLM offers an Immigration and Consular Access Supplement in both English and Spanish language versions.
HRLR Editors
Julia Sherman
Raymond Moss
Executive Editor
Suji Han
Executive Production Editor
Jachele Velez
Executive Submissions Editor
Michael (Mickey) DiBattista
Executive Notes Editor