Reporter Editorial: The president’s challenges

GAGE SKIDMORE/FLICKR PHOTO

GAGE SKIDMORE/FLICKR PHOTO

Donald Trump has been sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

Entering the White House with historically low approval ratings, President Trump has his work cut out for him to improve his popularity among many Americans. Several key issues essential to the East End will likely affect how locals view Mr. Trump and his administration over the next four or eight years.

One obvious place to look locally will be Plum Island. By the time Mr. Trump leaves office, it’s likely the federal research facility will have been sold. Will it be to the highest bidder or for the purpose of preservation?

While Mr. Trump himself previously eyed the island off Orient Point for development as a golf course, elected officials and environmentalists in both New York and Connecticut have expressed interest in turning Plum Island — which is the habitat of several rare and endangered plants and animals — into a federal wildlife refuge.

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), a supporter of Mr. Trump, has already sponsored a bill that would prevent the sale of Plum Island to the highest bidder. That legislation found no sponsor in the Senate.

Leadership from our president to generate bipartisan support for preserving the 680 undeveloped acres at Plum Island would be welcome news on both sides of Long Island Sound.

Another issue that concerns our area and the nation at large is the opioid epidemic that the new administration must address. In October, Mr. Trump vowed to end that epidemic, although many health care professionals have argued that repealing the Affordable Care Act isn’t a good start toward achieving that goal.

Whatever direction Mr. Trump and the Republican-led Congress take toward a replacement, it’s essential that the millions of Americans who signed on to ACA to receive mental health and addiction treatment aren’t prevented from doing so in the future.

Last week, the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office said repealing major provisions of the Affordable Care Act would cost 18 million people insurance in the first year and lead to increased costs.

That’s bad news at any time, but in a year when drug overdose fatalities have soared to unprecedented levels in Suffolk County, it’s deadly news.

Lastly, the president’s strong stance on immigration was among the most highly publicized parts of his campaign. The deportation of convicted felons who have entered this country illegally is something most Americans can get behind. But a greater challenge for Mr. Trump will be how his policies affect the millions of immigrants who have never committed a crime.

Immigrant labor is vital to our region’s economy and the exclusionary rhetoric that surrounded the recent campaign has left many local immigrant families fearing for their future and their safety.

It should be the hope of all Islanders that our federal government’s immigration policies only improve the quality of life for all residents.

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