The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a watchdog agency in the federal government that monitors civil rights law enforcement, announced on Friday that it would launch a two-year assessment of the executive branch.
The commission warned that budget cuts proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration could lead to a “dangerous reduction” in civil rights law enforcement.
“The Commission, by majority vote, expresses concern with the Administration’s proposed budget cuts to and planned staff losses in numerous programs and civil rights offices across the federal government that enforce our nation’s federal civil rights laws,” the commission said in a statement. “Along with changing programmatic priorities, these proposed cuts would result in a dangerous reduction of civil rights enforcement across the country, leaving communities of color, LGBT people, older people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups exposed to greater risk of discrimination.”
The assessment will look at whether the federal government will be able to properly enforce civil rights law with budget cuts and whether the “management practices” in place in the federal government are sufficient. The commission cited specific actions from federal government agencies that caused concern.
The commission noted that the Justice Department decided to place Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in courthouses, arguing it could be a “dangerous impediment to access to justice .” The commission also said the DOJ did not note the need to protect LGBT people and those with disabilities in its priorities for civil rights division.
The commission expressed concern about staff reductions in the civil rights offices at the Education Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as about changes at other agencies.
“For 60 years, Congress has charged the commission to monitor federal civil rights enforcement and recommend necessary change. We take this charge seriously, and we look forward to reporting our findings to Congress, the President, and the American people,” Commission Chair Catharine Lhamon said in a statement.