Swift Backlash: University of Miami Students Protest Former Trump Official Azar’s Hire
“Former Trump officials like Alex Azar who were critical players in enacting the cruel and inhumane immigration policies like family separation have no business being rewarded with cushy teaching gigs — full stop,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Azar’s hiring goes against the University of Miami’s proclaimed values, and runs afoul of its own immigration advocacy. The university’s administration owes their students, teachers, and alumni a serious explanation for why they think it’s worth compromising those values now.”
The move to hire Azar has left several students and members of staff feeling frustrated and ignored, according to the Miami New Times:
- “The university hiring this person is quite despicable. […] What happened under Trump was a human-rights abuse, and this is a person who does not respect migrants with what he’s done with the Trump administration,” said Preston Stone, a Miami University Ph.D. student who teaches a course on migration and citizenship.
- “It’s the normalization and reinsertion of people who were parts of really horrible systems that caused a lot of pain, suffering, and trauma. […] These people get to retire, have their names forgotten, and get a nice teaching job at UM.” Thomas Kennedy, a grad student and activist, said. Kennedy went further, calling the move an attempt to whitewash his career history.
- “You can’t be against anti-Black racism and hire Azar, the guy who was complicit in racist Trump policies, such as family separation, trying to sabotage Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, and botching the response to COVID-19 which disproportionately affected people of color,” said Scot Evans, an associate professor and President of the Miami’s University Employee Alliance.
- “To let the former president disparage science and undermine the very work he was doing — he didn’t have the courage to take a position. […] What are the values to be passed down to these students other than opportunism, cowardice, and an inability to stand?” said Professor and Director of the university’s Global Health Studies program Louis Herns Marcelin.
Read more from the Miami New Times here.
Records show that Azar was one of the senior Trump officials invited to White House meeting at which a vote was taken to enact the “zero tolerance” policy. Under that policy, migrant children separated at the U.S. border were transferred to facilities supervised by HHS, without an adequate system for tracking families who had been separated. In the months before it began, officials within HHS had raised alarms about the potential harm such a policy could cause. He also pushed through a rule in the final days of the Trump administration revoking LGBTQ protections in social services in what was described as a “nasty parting shot.
Not only was Azar a key figure in enacting aspects of the Trump administration’s deliberately cruel family separation policy, he also oversaw the administration’s botched handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in 400,000 deaths under his leadership. Among other failures, Azar parroted Trump’s misinformation about treating the virus with the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine despite a lack of scientific evidence, refused to take responsibility for the administration’s early failures to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, and kept COVID-19 threat meetings classified.
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