Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, with backing from former President Trump’s immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, alleges in a lawsuit that the new $4 billion debt relief plan for minority farmers unconstitutionally excludes white producers.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in Texas says USDA’s definition of “socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers” violates the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“If the court is unwilling to declare the department’s racial exclusions and the underlying statutes unconstitutional, then it should at the very least declare that the phrase ‘socially disadvantaged group’ must be construed, as a matter of statutory interpretation, to include ethnic groups of all types that have been subjected to racial and ethnic prejudice, including (but not limited to) Irish, Italians, Germans, Jews, and eastern Europeans,” the complaint says.
Another pathway for the court is to “declare that the phrase ‘socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher’ must be construed, as a matter of statutory interpretation, to include individuals who have any discernible trace of minority ancestry.”
That would include Sid Miller, who says in the lawsuit that “his ancestry is overwhelmingly white, and primarily Scotch-Irish. As is the case with many Americans, his ancestry is not limited to just one racial or ethnic group. Mr. Miller also has approximately 2% African-American ancestry.”
“The Constitution forbids government action that discriminates based upon race,” a group Stephen Miller co-founded, America First Legal, says in a press release. “Yet the Biden Administration’s Department of Agriculture — aided by the new Congress — is actively engaging in outright racial discrimination. While Congress is permitted to provide loan forgiveness and certain additional benefits to farmers and ranchers, Americans of all races and ethnicities must have the opportunity to receive them.”
USDA’s definition of “socially disadvantaged farmer and rancher” includes African-Americans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, Asian-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Pacific Islanders.
The Texas ag commissioner is seeking class certification for all producers “who are currently excluded from the department’s interpretation of ‘socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher.’ ” Miller, as a farmer and rancher, would represent the class. He “is suing in his capacity as a private citizen, and not on behalf of the State of Texas or the Texas Department of Agriculture,” the lawsuit says.
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Stephen Miller started America First Legal with former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and has the backing of Trump, who said the group is needed to fight the “radical left.”
“AFL will focus its efforts on resisting the radical left’s agenda and preserving our shared national values, collaborating with like-minded partners across the nation, including state attorneys general,” the group said April 6.
“We are reviewing the complaint and working with the Department of Justice,” a USDA spokesperson said. “During this review, we will continue to implement the debt relief to qualified socially disadvantaged borrowers in the American Rescue Plan Act.”
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