Policy Updates

On the Hill Updates: October 26, 2018

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Open enrollment launches next week!

On November 1, the 2019 health care exchanges open enrollment period opens for business! Those who don’t sign up by December 15 can only obtain 2019 coverage by qualifying for a special enrollment period. Plans sold during open enrollment start January 1, 2019. Act now to ensure you, your friends, and your family members are covered!


Federal Courts

Senate Judiciary Committee holds another sham hearing on biased nominee

The Senate Judiciary Committee held yet another recess hearing on October 24, following the first and unprecedented recess hearing the week prior. Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) scheduled these hearings with controversial nominees for the Fourth and the Ninth Circuits after the Senate left for an early recess. Never before has the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on judicial nominations while the Senate is in recess prior to an election without the consent of the minority party. Sen. Grassley has refused to reschedule these hearings despite a written request from all ten democratic senators on the committee, and then failed to attend either of the hearings himself. His continued disregard for long-standing safeguards that insulate the courts from partisanship undermines our democracy and the integrity of our institutions. Read more and take action using these talking points and tips.

The hearing on October 24 was on the nominations of Bridget Bade of Arizona and Eric Miller of Washington, both nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Neither of the home state senators have returned their blue slip for Miller, indicating their lack of support for his nomination. Miller’s anti-choice activism shows that he would not be an impartial judge, and NCJW opposes his nomination.

Census lawsuit setback

On October 22, the US Supreme Court decided that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross would not have to provide sworn testimony (called a deposition) on his decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census through October 29, pending further actions by the parties involved in the suit. Plaintiffs requested to depose Ross because documents collected in the suit indicate he lied about the justification for adding the question. The Supreme Court’s decision allows the administration to file additional requests to permanently block the deposition. The Court did allow for John Gore, the former acting director of the Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice to be deposed. The trial is scheduled to begin November 2 in the Southern District of New York, but may be delayed pending the outcome of the Ross deposition request.

DOJ trying to speed DACA decision

On October 17, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals warning them that if they did not make a decision soon in litigation concerning the president’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), DOJ would ask the US Supreme Court to take up the case. The 9th Circuit heard arguments in May, but has yet to issue an opinion. The administration made a similar appeal in January 2018 after a federal court ruled to temporarily block the president from ending DACA, and the Court rejected that request in February.

Another victory for sanctuary cities

On October 24, a federal judge in Washington State ruled that it would be unconstitutional for the administration to withhold funding to Seattle and Portland based on their sanctuary status (in those cities, local law enforcement does not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement). The ruling follows numerous others, including the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, that found the administration’s plans unconstitutional.


Civil Rights

Trump administration attacks transgender individuals

On October 21, the New York Times published a story on a leaked memo that revealed the Trump administration is planning to define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, in defiance of science. This definition essentially erases more than two million transgender people in the US, as well as intersex and genderqueer individuals. The definition will impact current regulations as well as two upcoming federal regulations: one from the Department of Education about sex discrimination at schools and colleges, and one from the Department of Health and Human Services dealing with health programs and activities. It may also have other ripple effects in regulations, programs, and policies across the federal government. NCJW opposes this damaging proposal.


Immigration and Refugees

Take action to support immigrant children

On September 7, the Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security published a proposed rule that would alter the guidelines under which immigrant minors can be held in federal detention, known as the Flores settlement. Currently, children must be released as soon as possible, typically in fewer than 20 days. Further, they can only be held in state license child care facilities. The proposed regulations would allow the government to detain children indefinitely — with or without their families. Further, the federal government would be able to self-regulate facilities, making it easy to establish new detention centers. NCJW opposes this proposed rule and submitted a comment to the Federal Register listing our concerns.

Trump rhetoric on migrant caravan increases

A caravan of immigrants largely from Honduras is making its way through southern Mexico this week in an effort to reach the US southern border. These types of migrant caravans are not new; immigrants frequently band together on the journey through Mexico for safety, as well as to raise attention to the conditions from which they are fleeing. However, President Trump and senior administration officials like Stephen Miller have increased their hateful rhetoric around the caravan, claiming it includes “Middle Easterners” and terrorists, and is funded by the Democratic Party. These myths and others have been widely debunked, but the statements are harmful to current and future immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. Trump has threatened to send “as many troops as necessary” to the border to stop the caravan, and tweeted that he would cut foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. On October 25, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced he would send 800 troops to the southern border.

In addition to generating a climate of hate and fear, Trump is also hinting he will use the caravan as an excuse to implement his new family separation policy, called “binary choice.” The plan would force parents to choose to be detained indefinitely with their children while their case is heard, or give up their child to the government.

  • Take Action! Tell your lawmakers to support immigrant families.

Sign On Letters

  • On October 19, NCJW joined 52 organizations on a FY 2020 international family planning request letter to the Office on Management and Budget spearheaded by the Guttmacher Institute.
  • On October 24, NCJW submitted a comment to the record opposing the administration’s proposed rule to alter the rules governing federal detention of immigrant children.

Amicus Briefs

NCJW sign on as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) to a brief in Prison Legal News v. Florida Department of Corrections, a case involving the first amendment in terms of materials distributed in prisons. Petitioners are asking the US Supreme Court to take up the case and reverse the decision made by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the brief supports that ask.

Related Resources