DC Digest – February 17, 2017
OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
In Today’s Issue:
- EO Status & Briefs
- DeVos Speaks on Higher Ed
- H1-B Visas
- Gorsuch Scheduled
- Women in STEM
- New Immigration EO?
- GOP Plans Leaked
AN EVOLVING ORDER
The original immigration Executive Order, signed January 27, barred refugees from entering the country for 120 days; citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days; and citizens of Syria indefinitely. A federal judge in Seattle first ordered the ban suspended Feb. 3, and the three-judge panel with the 9th Circuit last week unanimously rejected the administration’s request to undo that freeze.
That left Justice Department lawyers with two options in the short run: rush to the Supreme Court, or ask the full 9th Circuit to take up the matter in a rehearing before all the judges of the court (i.e. “en banc”). Given the likeliness of a new EO, the administration will most likely not invest in the legal battle for the current EO.
IMMIGRATION AND HIGHER ED NEXUS
Thursday February 16, the American Association of Universities (AAU) filed an amicus brief in the case of Darweesh vs. Trump detailing the effects the EO had on the higher education community. Although the case does not directly involve students or universities, the plaintiff seeks broad relief that would also aid the higher education community.
A group of Senate Democrats on Tuesday said that President Donald Trump’s Executive Order targeting immigrants and refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries is “wreaking havoc on our higher education system.”
The travel ban, the senators write in a letter to Trump, has upended academic studies and research by international students and threatens to damage the worldwide prestige of America’s system of higher education.
“While this Executive Order was in effect, students and faculty were stranded, critical research was halted and scholars around the world were told to cancel any overseas travel,” the senators wrote in the letter, which was signed by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), 13 other Democrats and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
ADDRESSING HIGHER ED
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos delivered her first speech about higher education issues on Thursday.
DeVos addressed community college leaders in Washington, D.C. at a conference organized by the Association of Community College Trustees and the American Association of Community Colleges.
H1-B VISA PROGRAM
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a longtime ally of Silicon Valley, said in an interview Tuesday that he has discussed the economic benefits of preserving and expanding H-1B visas in several meetings with President Donald Trump, and suggested that he can persuade the president not to weaken the program that’s popular with U.S. tech firms and universities.
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s Senate confirmation hearing date has been scheduled to begin March 20.
The Judiciary Committee hearing for President Donald Trump’s nominee is expected to last three to four days. Questioning of the Tenth Circuit judge will be held on March 21, and Senators will hear testimony from outside experts.
WOMEN IN STEM BILLS TO TRUMP’S DESK
The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act and INSPIRE Women Act, both intended to support women in STEM fields, passed the Senate and are now headed to President Trump’s desk for signature. The bills, introduced by Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) and Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), respectively, are part of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s innovation initiative, and passed the House earlier this Congress.
NEW IMMIGRATION EO
President Trump said Thursday he will issue a new Executive Order on immigration after federal courts blocked his administration from enforcing a January 27 order barring entry into the U.S. by refugees and nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries.
In a news conference, President Trump said the new order would come out next week.
GOP PLANS LEAKED
A memo detailing Republican’s healthcare replacement plans was recently leaked.