President Donald Trump‘s administration is preparing to redirect federal resources toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action programs, a new report says.
The New York Times on Tuesday reported that the administration is planning to look into affirmative action policies aimed at bringing more minority students to university campuses, claiming that the policies discriminate against white college applicants.
The administration is planning to redirect resources from the Justice Department’s civil rights division for the effort and is seeking lawyers interested in taking legal action against “intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions,” the Times reports, citing a document obtained by the newspaper.
Vanita Gupta, former head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under Barack Obama, called the plan an “affront to our values as a country and the very mission of the civil rights division,” in a statement to The Washington Post.
“Long-standing Supreme Court precedent has upheld the constitutionality and compelling state interest of these policies, and generations of Americans have benefited from richer, more inclusive institutions of higher education,” Gupta said.
Sarah Isgur Flores, the Justice Department’s spokeswoman, would neither confirm nor deny the move to PEOPLE.
The document, a internal announcement to the civil rights division, does not specifically identify who officials believe are at risk of discrimination, the Times reports. But supporters and critics of the project told the publication that it would clearly target programs that can benefit members of disadvantaged groups like Black and Latino students.
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In the wake of the report, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund released a statement condemning the plan.
“[The] LDF has fought to ensure that every child is afforded an equal opportunity to succeed, and we will bring the full force of the law if this Justice Department attempts to resegregate our institutions of higher learning,” officials said.
Meanwhile, some supporters of the project told the Times that the move is “long overdue.”
“The civil rights laws were deliberately written to protect everyone from discrimination,” Roger Clegg, a former civil rights division official under Ronald Reagan, told the Times. “It is frequently the case that not only are whites discriminated against now, but frequently Asian-Americans are as well.”