As the death toll from Hurricane Harvey rises and Americans live through the devastation, some are using the natural disaster to score political points against President Donald Trump.
TEACHER FIRED FOR ‘KARMA’ TWEET
On Sunday, an assistant sociology professor at the University of Tampa took to Twitter to suggest that Texans deserved the wrath of Hurricane Harvey because they voted for Trump.
In the tweet that has since been deleted, Kenneth Storey said: “I don’t believe in instant karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesn’t care about them.”
One of Storey’s followers questioned his comments, reminding him that there are “lots of good people in Texas,” and asking Storey to “rethink this one.”
However, Storey doubled down, saying that “the good people there need to do more to stop the evil their state pushes” and specifically stated that those who voted for Trump in Florida “deserve it as well.”
The university quickly condemned Story’s comments. In a statement released Tuesday, the institution said they “understand the pain this irresponsible act has caused.”
“As Floridians, we are well aware of the destruction and suffering associated with tropical weather. Our thoughts and prayers are with all impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” the university said.
The school announced that Storey was relieved of his position for his comments, and other faculty members will take over his classes.
Harris County, which encompasses Houston, went to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential elections. She won 55 percent and Trump got 42 percent of the vote.
Before deleting his Twitter account, Storey posted an apology.
“I deeply regret a statement I posted yesterday,” Storey tweeted, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “I never meant to wish ill will upon any group. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly.”
FAKE CHECKPOINT NEWS
On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a statement which claimed that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was “putting undocumented people and mixed-status families at risk out of fear of deportations” by not closing checkpoints in Texas during the storm.
“This is a disgusting move from the Border Patrol that breaks with past practices. The Border Patrol should never keep checkpoints open during any natural disasters in the United States,” Lorella Praeli, ACLU’s director of immigration policy and campaigns, said. “Everyone, no matter the color of their skin or background, is worth saving.”
If you don’t want people to risk their lives, don’t make undocumented and mixed status families choose between safety and checkpoints. https://t.co/xOQkMgoRME
— ACLU National (@ACLU) August 25, 2017
Praeli claims that people seeking refuge from the storm would “have to go north or west of Texas and would have to go through a checkpoint.”
However, the Intercept noted that “there are no checkpoints in the areas affected by the storm, and no one fleeing Hurricane Harvey will encounter a Border Patrol checkpoint.”
The closest checkpoints are 80 and 50 miles from Corpus Christi, and no one would use those roads to flee from the storm since they do not lead to higher ground inland, according to the Intercept.
On Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and CBP released a joint statement that said “routine non-criminal immigration enforcement operations will not be conducted at evacuation sites, or assistance centers such as shelters or food banks.”
“The Department’s law enforcement components will be at the ready to help anyone in need of assistance,” ICE and CBP wrote. They added: “The laws will not be suspended, and we will be vigilant against any effort by criminals to exploit disruptions caused by the storm.”
FLOTUS FASHION STATEMENT
As Trump headed to Texas to meet with local leaders and relief organizers, First Lady Melania Trump was photographed boarding Air Force One wearing designer high heels.
The fashion choice quickly went viral, with critics taking the opportunity to mock the First Lady for being “out of touch” for wearing designer shoes to a disaster zone.
By the time the First Lady landed in Texas, she had swapped her heels for a pair of white sneakers. She was also wearing a white button up shirt and a black baseball hat that read “FLOTUS” in white letters.
Stephanie Grisham, the First Lady’s communications director, said the attention Melania received from her wardrobe choice was “sad.”
“It’s sad that we have an active and ongoing natural disaster in Texas, and people are worried about her shoes,” Grisham said in a statement released to CNN.
from @FLOTUS comms dir: “It’s sad that we have an active and ongoing natural disaster in Texas, and people are worried about her shoes.”
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) August 29, 2017
Some news organizations also used the opportunity to criticize Trump’s decision to roll back Obama-era regulations, including the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, which Trump said was “a massive, self-inflicted wound on our country.”
The regulation never went into effect. It would have required federally-funded infrastructure projects to “address current and future flood risk and ensure that projects funded with taxpayer dollars last as long as intended.”
Trump announced the regulation would be repealed by executive order during a news conference last month on reforming “the nation’s badly broken infrastructure permitting process.”
When he arrived in Texas, Trump was met by large crowds who reportedly greeted him cheering “Trump!” and “USA!”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott praised Trump for his support, saying his efforts had made the emergency response “more effective.”