Today’s News & Commentary — March 16, 2017
Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland dealt a blow to President Trump’s revised travel ban yesterday. In Honolulu, U.S. District Court Judge Derrick K. Watson granted a nationwide temporary restraining order preventing the Trump Administration’s executive order from taking effect. Hours later, U.S. District Court Judge Theodore D. Chuang in Maryland issued an order preventing the key provision, which would have stopped the U.S. from issuing visas from six countries for 90 days, from being implemented. Read more here.
The Federal Reserve raised the benchmark interest rate yesterday for the third time following the financial crisis. It opted to raise the benchmark by a quarter of a percentage point and continues to predict two additional rate increases this year. In a press conference regarding the decision, Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, showed confidence in the economy stating “[w]e’re closing in, I think, on our employment objective; we’re coming closer on our inflation objective. … It looks to us to be appropriate to gradually raise the federal funds rate to neutral.” A historical examination of the Federal Reserve’s involvement in rate increases can be found here.
Yesterday, the Senate voted 51-48 to repeal an Obama Administration regulation restricting the sectors in which states could require a drug test for unemployment benefits. President Trump is expected to sign the repeal into law. Because the regulation was repealed under the special procedures outlined in the Congressional Review Act, Congress only requires majorities in both chambers to undo recently finalized regulations. This regulation is the eighth Obama regulation to be repealed under the Congressional Review Act.
At the New Yorker, Jonathan Blitzer suggests that the case of Daniel Ramirez, a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, demonstrates how the Trump Administration could undermine the program without formally abolishing it. Ramirez and his legal team have alleged that Ramirez’s due process rights were violated when he was arrested. The government has responded that DACA status can be revoked at any time if a DACA beneficiary is convicted of a crime or considered to be a threat to public safety. Ramirez has not been convicted of a crime, and he and his legal team maintain that the government has no evidence that he is a threat to public safety. The article questions whether DACA’s protections and the emphasis on high-priority immigration enforcement will prove illusory in the face of such broad discretion delegated to immigration enforcement officials. Blitzer states that “[w]hile the Trump Administration may preserve DACA on paper, honoring the policy in practice would require being clear about who is and isn’t a priority for detention by immigration agents.”