Experts Available to Discuss President Trump’s Policies

UC Riverside experts available to discuss topics like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Muslim ban, healthcare, and others

UCR scholars are available to discuss President Donald Trump’s policies and executive orders.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – In his first two and a half weeks in office, President Donald Trump has signed nearly a dozen executive orders – spanning from the so-called “Muslim ban,” to a federal hiring freeze. Experts at the University of California, Riverside are available to discuss President Trump and his administration’s various executive orders, policies and their impact and implications.

Media: You can take excerpts from the quotes below. If you would like to speak to one of the UC Riverside professors listed, please contact him or her through the contact information provided. Or contact Mojgan Sherkat, senior public information officer at or (951) 827-5893.


Laila Lalami, professor of creative writing

Lalami is available to discuss President Trump’s ban on refugees and Muslims traveling from seven Middle Eastern countries, and defeating ISIS. In a Feb. 3 essay published in The New Yorker, she describes life under an authoritarian regime in Morocco, becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2000, and similarities she observes between the authoritarian regime she experienced in Morocco and the Trump administration. “I have seen this story before, in the country where I was born. There, too, the law was applied arbitrarily, dissenting public servants were removed from office, and journalists either repeated what they were told or were treated as the enemy.” In a Jan. 29 essay in The Nation, Lalami says Americans face “the rapid dismantling of political norms and the destruction of an open democracy. If Trump can do all this and face no opposition, he’ll do more. Silence will not protect you. If you think what is happening to Muslims will never happen to you, you’re mistaken. We will either survive together or perish separately.”

Alfonso Gonzales, associate professor of ethnic studies

Gonzales is the author of “Reform Without Justice: Latino Migrant Politics and the Homeland Security State” (Oxford University Press, 2014), which focuses on post-9/11 immigration control policies and Latino migrant activism. The book won the 2014 Americo Paredes Book Award for the best nonfiction work in the fields of Chicana/o or Latino/a studies.

Kate Sweeny, psychology professor

“Uncertainty is stressful, often even more stressful than receiving bad news. Humans are quite adaptive and resilient, with numerous coping strategies at the ready in moments of crisis–but when faced with rapidly changing circumstances, or a lack of information, or unreliable information, people may feel paralyzed in their ability to take action. In the wake of President Trump’s recent actions, countless immigrants, refugees, and their families find themselves uncertain about their future.”

Sweeny’s research on uncertainty, and particularly the experience of uncertain news, sheds light on the nature of distress that arises in these situations and the coping mechanisms people use (often ineffectively) to manage their distress.


Jana Grittersova, associate professor of political science

“The Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP) can substantially increase the annual income for the U.S. and raise wages, making the U.S. the largest beneficiary of the TPP in absolute terms. By withdrawing from the TPP, the U.S. would not only lose the potential economic gains but also the opportunity to shape the future rules of international trade (e.g., in areas such as digital economy). The withdrawal will also further damage the credibility of the United States in the region and the U.S. will pass the torch of leadership in international trade to China.”

Grittersova’s research focuses primarily on the sources of government reputation in international markets, international banking, the effects of interest groups on the credibility of international monetary and financial commitments, the role of non-market coordination in financial-system development, and political economy of reform.

Noel Pereyra Johnston, assistant professor of political science

Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership “undermines America’s long-term economic and security goals. Reservations to the TPP, whether from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, or President Trump convey care but not foresight. Deals like this will leave a power vacuum that will make America third, rather than first.”

With particular focus on foreign investment and international trade, Pereyra Johnston’s research touches on topics including international institutions, globalization, development, and the politics of international property rights.

Matthew C. Mahutga, sociology professor

“Donald Trump became president by riding a wave of resentment at both the erosion of living standards in the American Rust Belt and the perception that only ‘elites’ benefit from the American economy. This fact is unsurprising from the perspective of economic theory. Trade and investment globalization simply must change the way national economies operate, because they open up new channels through which the market processes of supply and demand operate. In countries like the United States, these changes include rising fortunes for highly skilled workers, capital and management, and declining fortunes for low and unskilled workers.

“The solutions proposed by President Trump and his contemporaries in Europe are most likely to make the problem worse. Trade and investment globalization have dramatically reduced the price of goods in places like the U.S. relative to what they would be in the absence of globalization. Any wage gains owing to the Trump administration’s promise of an ‘old deal’ (the return of manufacturing employment to the heartland) would likely be more than offset by a dramatic rise in prices.”

Mahutga’s research focuses on the organizational features of economic globalization and the consequences of these and related social processes for economic development and stratification. And how, Western governments should promote both freer trade and social policies targeting the workers and families most impacted by globalization.


Robert Kaestner, professor of public policy and economics

Kaestner’s research focuses on the economic and social causes of health, health demography, and health, labor and social policy evaluation. He has published over 100 articles in academic journals. Recent studies have been awarded Article of the Year by Academy Health in 2011 and the 2012 Frank R. Breul Memorial Prize for the best publication in Social Services Review.

Bruce Link, distinguished professor of sociology and public policy

Link’s current research focuses on understanding health disparities by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status, the consequences of social stigma for people with mental illnesses, and the connection between mental illnesses and violent behaviors. He has written on the connection between socioeconomic status and health, homelessness, violence, stigma, and discrimination.

Ann Cheney, assistant professor, Center for Healthy Communities

On the impact of hiring freeze on veteran healthcare: “This hiring freeze can have significant impact on veteran healthcare, morale among VA staff and service providers, and can greatly impede research and healthcare quality improvement projects. The VA is the largest healthcare system in the U.S. and provides comprehensive care to veterans, including specialized gender-sensitive and gender-specific care to women veterans. VA healthcare facilities often do not have enough staff or service providers to meet veterans’ diverse and complex needs. Over the past several years, I have collaborated on research on veterans’ experiences of barriers to VA healthcare services use. Long-wait times, limited providers, high provider turn-over are some of the common barriers veterans’ experience. The hiring freeze can exacerbate these issues by interfering with the hiring of new staff to schedule appointments and service providers (e.g., nurses and doctors) to treat patients, and may have the unintended consequence of pushing staff and providers out of VA because of frustrations. It may also impede translation of VA research or healthcare quality improvement projects into routine clinical practice by limiting capacity of project staff and investigators.”

Business and economy

Christopher Thornberg, Director
UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development

“Trump’s plan to create 25 million jobs over the next decade might not be too hard for a nation that, on average, is already adding two million plus jobs per year. The 25 million number only suggests a slight acceleration in the current jobs growth rate. But today even that will be tough, given that the U.S. is currently at full employment and, overall, is seeing slowing labor force growth due to the aging of the population. It will be doubly hard if the Trump Administration continues down its path of reducing the pace of immigration into the nation. Right now, immigration accounts for roughly half of population growth in the U.S. and is on an upward trajectory.

“As for boosting GDP growth—this is a total red herring. You can’t cause the economy to grow faster, thus creating jobs. Rather, in the long run, the number of people in the labor force are what is responsible for GDP growth. With full employment and a slowing pace of labor force growth in the U.S., these jobs goals will be largely impossible.

“In short—the vision being put forth will look nothing like the reality.”

Robert Kleinhenz, Executive Director of Research
UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development

“America faces twin deficits: the budget deficit and the trade deficit. Should the Trump administration follow through on its plans to cut taxes and increase infrastructure spending, the budget deficit seems destined to get worse before it gets better. The picture is less clear for the trade deficit in this world of globally integrated multinational companies whose products hop-skip across the globe on their way to final assembly (both goods and services). And it’s not clear that the administration will succeed in bringing large numbers of jobs back to this country. If it does succeed, it will likely do so on the backs of American households and businesses who may end up paying more for the things they buy, both foreign and U.S.-made.”

Foreign Policy/Fighting ISIS

Bronwyn Leebaw, associate professor of political science

Leebaw is available to discuss human rights issues, including refugee rights, asylum cases, migrant rights, indigenous rights, the rights of detainees, and the international prohibition on torture.

“The Trump administration has signaled its disregard for all of these rights principles, among others,” she said. “Donald Trump has expressed admiration for the decision on the part of the Chinese government to send tanks into Tiananmen Square to crush protestors in 1989, declared that ‘torture works,’ and banned refugees from entering the country.” She also can discuss the international legal conventions associated with the human rights framework, as well as those associated with international humanitarian law (the laws of war), the work of human rights organizations and institutions on these themes, and comparative approaches to human rights. She also teaches courses on environmental justice and can address implications of Trump’s policies pertaining to the EPA and climate science.

Perry Link, distinguished professor of Chinese literature and language

Link is one of the world’s leading experts on Chinese culture and history and Chancellorial Chair for Innovative Teaching at UCR. He was a co-editor and translator of “The Tiananmen Papers,” a compilation of secret, official documents that describe battles between regime hard-liners and reformers on how to handle the student protests.

The June 4, 1989, massacre of student protesters in Beijing was a turning point in the economic, social, and spiritual life of all of China and, despite the government’s efforts to erase its memory, remains very important today, Link says.  Link is available to comment on how Trump’s policies in Asia seem too narrow and, as elsewhere in the world, too unpredictable. “His ‘America first’ approach leaves him too uninterested in what is actually happening inside China, and it is a big mistake to overlook that topic,” Link said.

Ian Oxnevad, Ph.D. student (ABD) in political science

Oxnevad holds a master’s degree in national security studies and has published on ISIS and terrorism financing. He says that the political and economic stability that existed since the end of the Cold War is over, as well as the geopolitical environment that followed it. While old rivals such as Russia vie for influence, Moscow does not pose the same destabilizing risks as Chinese aggression in East Asia, or a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that failed diplomacy has done little to prevent.

“The terrorist threat that existed during the immediate 9/11 era has drastically changed. While classical Al Qaeda of the 1990s and early 2000s no longer exists, the threat that groups like Al Qaeda pose to polities around the world has metastasized from a single organization to one that can simultaneously vie for territory, utilize terrorist cells, and radicalize otherwise distant and unrelated individuals who turn to violence. The threat that ISIS and organizations like it pose to ordinary citizens and polities around the world is arguably one of the greatest threats to social stability and human rights in contemporary times.

“The threat environment no longer comprises traditional terrains such as land, sea, and air. Cyberspace, the international financial system, and sentiments of political legitimacy in polities around the world are emerging as strategic terrains in their own right. Non-state actors such as terrorist groups, criminal organizations, and even revisionist states have the ability to utilize vehicles of power and influence through the financial system in a manner that thwart U.S. security interests while also exerting pressures to alter the international economic arena. Realizing the growing strategic importance of the economic and financial system, and integrating the consideration of these terrains into traditional strategic calculus is imperative for policymakers in the years to come.”


Carl Cranor, distinguished professor of philosophy

Cranor is known globally for his research on the regulation of toxic substances, the ethics of risk, and the philosophy of law and science. His work has changed how scientific testimony is addressed in court cases as well as aspects of regulation in California. He is the author of “Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants,” “Regulating Toxic Substances: A Philosophy of Science and the Law,” and “Toxic Torts: Science, Law and the Possibility of Justice.” He co-authored a report for the Office of Technology Assessment, “Identifying and Regulating Carcinogens,” and a study by an Institute of Medicine Committee, “Valuing Health: Cost Effectiveness Analysis for Regulation.” He has served on science advisory panels (California’s Proposition 65, Electric and Magnetic Fields, Nanotechnology, and Biomonitoring Panels) as well as on Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences Committees.


Steven Brint, distinguished professor of sociology and public policy

Brint is available to discuss a variety of education issues. He is the director of the Colleges & Universities 2000 study. He is an organizational sociologist whose current research focuses on topics in the sociology of higher education, the sociology of professions, and middle-class politics. He is the author of three books: “The Diverted Dream” (with Jerome Karabel), which won the American Education Research Association’s “Outstanding Book” award of 1991 and the Council of Colleges and Universities’ “Outstanding Research Publication” award the same year; “In an Age of Experts”; and “Schools and Societies.” Brint also follows the changing occupational and industrial structure in the United States, including where the new, high-paying jobs are coming from.

Cassandra Guarino, professor of education and public policy

Guarino has held prior positions as an economist at the Rand Corp. and on the faculties of Michigan State and Indiana universities. Her research focuses on teacher quality, teacher labor markets, school choice, and issues in which health and education are linked. Recent work has included several studies related to value-added measures of teacher performance, teacher effectiveness in the early grades, school choice, teacher mobility, and special-needs identification.

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