Though he could not be bothered to interrupt his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to actually visit those devastated by historic flooding in Louisiana and beyond, President Barack Obama’s Justice Department did manage to send the disaster-plagued state’s leaders a refresher course in anti-discrimination law.
The federal agency drafted a 16-page document laying out in excruciating detail the hoops aid workers must jump through in order to avoid running afoul of the law.
Any organizations receiving federal money to assist in the cleanup, the advisory stated, must steer clear of “unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin (including limited English proficiency).”
While the legal reminder on its own is hardly surprising given the administration’s frequent reminders on the subject, it struck many local leaders as insulting — especially given Obama’s conspicuous absence from the affected communities.
Nevertheless, the DOJ memo cited the last devastating storm to strike the Gulf Coast — 2005’s Hurricane Katrina — in making the case that such a reminder is warranted.
Images that circulated in the wake of that storm, the letter asserted, “exposed significant inequalities in access to emergency response and recovery efforts.”
Despite initially expressing no plans to visit the state, Obama confirmed he will be traveling to Louisiana early next week. The announcement came on the same day Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence paid a visit to flooded areas in the region.