On Wednesday, President Trump signed an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border, but his order doesn’t mean that the policy of holding families in detention together at the border will end.
This week’s Federal Flash examines the implications of Trump’s executive order, as well as failed efforts in Congress to address immigration crisis and the legal status of individuals in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It also provides updates on federal education funding and career and technical education.
Trump’s Executive Order on Family Separation
After President Trump and other administration officials claimed that the horrifying policy of separating children from their parents was beyond their control, the president issued an executive order to scale back, if not end the policy. The executive order states, “It is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.”
But this doesn’t mean that the policy of holding families in detention together at the border will end. In fact, the order projects the continuation and potential expansion of this practice. Within the order, the president directs the Department of Defense to make available or construct facilities to hold families while court proceedings take place.
Noticeably absent from the order was any directive to the Department of Health and Human services to support the health and well-being of these families while they are detained, or any mention of reunifying the families that have already been separated.
See the full executive order.
Senator Patty Murray of Washington State, the leading democrat on the subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, sent a letter to the HHS Secretary asking for details on the situation. saying “…the horrific reports I have seen regarding the federal government’s treatment of children in custody, make it frighteningly clear the Department and the Trump Administration as a whole have absolutely no concern for the wellbeing of thousands of children and parents whom they have caused great pain and continued trauma.”
Read her letter.
Failed Efforts in Congress to Address Immigration Crisis
Don’t forget about the other immigration crisis created by this White House…DACA. The House planned to consider two different approaches, one focused on enforcement led by Congressman Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and another led by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan that also focuses on enforcement while providing some DACA recipients with the opportunity to gain legal status, while falling far short of the bipartisan DREAM Act.
The Goodlatte proposal failed with a vote of 193 to 231. No democrat supported it, and 41 Republicans opposed it as well. In the process, the Goodlatte proposal killed the discharge petition discussed in this video with UnidosUs. House leaders have postponed a vote on the Ryan proposal, and President Trump is calling for a delay until after the election.
Federal Education Funding Decisions Around the Corner
In other news, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are working on legislation to fund the federal government, hoping to avoid embarrassing debates and stop-gap measures this fall as we close in on a tense election. The House subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Education voted on its bill; it will come before the full committee next week. The Senate subcommittee is expected to vote on its bill next week as well.
Moving on Career and Technical Education
In addition to action on federal education funding, Congress is also planning to move next week on the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The Senate postponed the committee vote originally scheduled for this week. Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray said in a joint statement, “Our goal is bipartisan agreement on the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, and we are making significant progress toward that goal.”
Merging Education and Labor Departments?
Finally, the Trump Administration is proposing a reorganization of the federal government, including a merger of the Department of Labor and the Department of Education. This would require Congressional approval, and Congress hasn’t been thrilled with some of the internal reorganization proposed within the Department of Education, so this more substantial move faces an uphill climb.
See the full proposal.
As always, we’ll keep you posted.
This blog post represents a slightly edited transcript of the June 22 episode of Federal Flash, the Alliance for Excellent Education’s five-minute (or less!) video series on important developments in education policy in Washington, DC. The video version is embedded below. For an alert when the next episode of Federal Flash is available, email at firstname.lastname@example.org.