Power  /  Q&A

What Will Future Historians Say About President Trump's First 100 Days? Here Are 11 Guesses

Experts weigh in on how historians of the future may assess President Trump's achievements after his first 100 days in office.
Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Julie M. Weise, associate professor of history at the University of Oregon:

President Trump’s first 100 days have caused immigrants and their families tremendous pain and anxiety. Future historians will return to this pain, but in hindsight will also see its legacy: once again, immigrants have responded to fearful times by doubling down on U.S. citizenship, laying the groundwork for their future political strength.

This has happened before. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, high-profile immigration raids and deportations left Mexican immigrant communities in anguish. When the children of that era grew up, they were determined to prove their Americanness. They donned the U.S. military uniform in World War II and then became the first significant generation of Latino American politicians. Now, the redoubled immigration enforcement of Trump’s first 100 days has devastated families and led immigrants everywhere to fear the worst. Though fewer have tried to cross the southern border since Trump’s election, those already here have once again doubled down, applying for citizenship and getting involved in local politics at elevated rates. Latino political strength was not quite enough to stop Trump in 2016, but future historians will recognize the paradoxical effect of his anti-immigrant campaign. It has already generated untold fear in communities and untold promise for the future of Latinos’ political power.

Alice S. Yang, associate professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and co-director of the Center for the Study of Pacific War Memories:

Historians will note that his administration had a troubled beginning, promoting falsehoods as “alternative facts,” equating criticism with “fake news,” deflecting questions about his campaign’s ties with Russia by leveling unsubstantiated charges of Obama wiretapping, and failing to replace the Affordable Care Act.

I suspect, however, that historians will focus in particular on his Executive Order to suspend immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. While Muslims were not explicitly named, many legal experts and historians quickly denounced the alarming parallels between the targeting of Muslim refugees as “foreign terrorists” and FDR’s Executive Order 9066, which led to the mass removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. In 1942, only a few rogue ACLU lawyers, Quakers and socialists protested. In start contrast, 75 years later, acting Attorney General Sally Yates refused to enforce the travel ban, federal judges blocked the order and, most importantly, large public groups rallied to defend Muslim refugees, calling for the defense of constitutional guarantees of equal protection and religious freedom.