On the Hill Updates: September 28, 2018
Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh testify before Senate committee
On September 27, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and US Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh each testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Ford’s allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh. Dr. Ford displayed even-keeled grace and courage despite being interrogated by a sex crimes prosecutor in a public hearing. In stark contrast, Judge Kavanaugh aggressively shouted most of his testimony, interrupted several democratic senators, and even cited a conspiracy theory involving the Clinton family.
On September 28, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to advance Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said he would not support final confirmation until the FBI investigates accusations of sexual assault leveled against Judge Kavanaugh.
Appropriations bill passes House
On September 26, the House passed (361-61) an appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Defense, known as “Minibus 3.” Also included in the bill is a continuing resolution that will fund other parts of the government not covered by specific appropriations bills through December 7, averting a shutdown in the near-term. The Senate passed the same bill last week, and President Trump indicated he will sign it into law
Immigration and Refugees
Proposed rule targets immigrants and their families
On September 22, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the text of a rule that would drastically impact the ability of immigrants to successfully apply for visa changes, including green cards. The rule would radically expand the list of programs that may be considered when the government determines if someone is likely to become a “public charge,” i.e. primarily dependent on the government. It would allow the government to consider whether immigrants use programs like Medicaid, food assistance, housing vouchers, or more. If the government deems an applicant a public charge under this new and broad definition, their green card will be refused. DHS estimates that roughly 382,000 people seeking to adjust their immigration status could be subjected to a public charge review each year. (Note: refugees, asylum seekers, and those covered by the Violence Against Women Act are not impacted by this rule.)
When the rule is formally published, there will be a chance for individuals and organizations to submit comments for the record before it becomes final. The National Council of Jewish Women will push back vigorously against this far-reaching and dangerous proposed rule and will mobilize others to do the same.
As DHS released text of its rule, the Department of Justice (DOJ) also signaled its intent to publish its own rule that would determine when documented immigrants could be deported for receiving certain government benefits. The text of the DOJ rule has not yet been released.
USCIS policy shifts toward deportation
In June, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a memo directing officers to issue a “notice to appear” (which kicks off deportation proceedings) when someone is denied an immigration benefit and lacks legal status. This week, USCIS announced it would implement the memo beginning October 1. After that, anyone denied a green card will be placed into removal proceedings if they lack legal status at that time.
Family separation update
Every Friday, parties involved in Ms. L v. ICE, the family separation lawsuit, release a reunification report. As of September 20, 182 children were still separated from their parents. Of this total, 141 kids have parents outside the US because they were deported. One reason why the number of separated children decreases each week is that some are turning 18 and aging out of the group covered by the lawsuit. The deadline to reunite all children with their families was July 26.
Sign On Letters
- On September 25, more than 1,100 organizations including NCJW joined the Protect Immigrant Families Campaign’s statement opposing the public charge rule.
- NCJW sign on as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) to a brief in Good v. Iowa Department of Human Services, a case before the Iowa Supreme Court concerning discrimination against transgender individuals in the provision of health care.