On March 16, 2017, President Trump’s second travel ban executive order was scheduled to go into effect. Within hours of each other federal judges from Hawaii and Maryland issued decisions temporarily preventing portions of it from going into effect nationwide. Both decisions conclude that the executive order likely violates the Establishment Clause because it was intended to prevent people from for entering the United States on the basis of religion.

The State of Hawaii (and an American citizen of Egyptian descent with a Syrian mother-in-law lacking a visa) brought the case decided by the court in Hawaii.

This week the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), John Kelly, issued two immigration enforcement memorandums. While one of the memos addresses President Trump’s executive order involving sanctuary cities (Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States), neither memo discusses sanctuary cities.

The most direct effect of these memos on states and local governments is the expansion of a program allowing state and local law enforcement officers to be designated as “immigration officers” for the purposes of enforcing federal immigration law. But considering this program is voluntary the most significant effect for states and local governments may be the increased deportations of residents, and the effects of them on family members and the community as a whole, expected to occur as a result of the memos.

With cybersecurity on the minds of many Americans, questions are being raised about what should be done to further protect the integrity of U.S. elections. Control of voting is in the hands of state and local governments, leading some to wonder what role the federal government should play in helping to strengthen these voting systems from a possible cyber-attack, while not overstepping state jurisdiction.

To paraphrase former first lady and the first U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, Eleanor Roosevelt, human rights begin in small places, close to home. In that spirit, the U.S. State Department would like to share important information about the Universal Periodic Review, or UPR, a major international human rights mechanism in which every U.N. member state participates, and invite state government officials to join public consultations that are part of this process.

During a special session called by Gov. Gary Herbert, Utah lawmakers passed a bill to address the issue of unmanned aircrafts interfering with wildfire management efforts, along with several other measures. In June, drones were spotted three times during a fire in Southwestern Utah, which led to the evacuation of 500 homes. Governor Herbert tweeted in response that “Evacuations could have been avoided if drones hadn’t interrupted air attack on the fire.”

Just like the head and tail of a coin, there are two sides to every disaster—providing help to those who need it and paying for that assistance. It’s a tug-of-war that’s becoming more contentious every year. Federal law requires assistance in times of disasters, but as threats grow in complexity—possible infrastructure failures, vulnerabilities from electromagnetic pulses and unforeseen consequences from hydraulic fracturing to name a few—the burden of marshalling the necessary resources and funding is an ongoing struggle.

The REAL ID Act of 2005 established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibited federal agencies from accepting, for official purposes, licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards. Starting Jan. 22, 2018, air travelers without a license from a compliant state or a state that has been granted an extension will be asked to provide alternate acceptable identification. Starting Oct. 1, 2020, every traveler will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel. This FREE webinar presented by CSG South/SLC provides an overview of the latest trends associated with the REAL ID requirements from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a status report from two SLC states.

It was a different crowd at the Supreme Court on April 18. The number of children on the courthouse steps may have exceeded the number of adults, and the voices on the microphones were speaking English and Spanish. Inside the courtroom, many members of Congress, cabinet members and foreign dignitaries filled the seats. Among those present were U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and chief justice of Canada, Beverley McLachlin. United States v. Texas is about different things to different people. For some it is about keeping families together, for some others it is about executive overreach and for many it is about “standing” to sue the federal government.

Every year the Supreme Court refuses to hear thousands of cases. A denial of certiorari does not mean the Court agrees with the lower court decision. So most cert denials go unnoticed.  

That said, many eyebrows were raised for many reasons when the Court denied cert in Friedman v. City of Highland Park. The issue in the case was whether the City of Highland Park could ban assault weapons and large capacity magazines. 

It’s not just cold air slamming against warm that creates disasters. Disasters come from a variety of threats: rising rivers and unprecedented snowfalls, cyberattacks and infectious diseases. There are also other kinds of risks, such as inadequate budgets and shifting political sands. Regardless of the cause, the consequences are predictable and can be tragic. Disasters hurt people and property. They tear lives apart. They can make political careers or bring them to a screeching halt. Disasters can change the course of history. While disasters can be difficult and present challenges to a neighborhood, community, state and a nation, their impact can be mitigated through strong and decisive action. Often, the only thing standing between the worst outcomes and manageable ones are citizens and public officials who refuse to be helpless pawns or victims, but instead prepare for the inevitable, conduct a thorough response and develop together a well-thought out recovery that acknowledges evolving threats without fear.

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