Justice Updates

Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM)

The proposed rule, or Notice of Proposed Rule making (NPRM) is the official document that announces and explains the agency’s plan to address a problem or accomplish a goal.  All proposed rules must be published in the Federal Register to notify the public and to give them an opportunity to submit comments.  The proposed rule and the public comments received on it form the basis of the final rule.  Usually the public has 30-60 days to comment although an agency can petition for an extension.  There are two ways to make a comment: by mail or on-line.  Most agencies prefer to receive comments electronically so the comments are more easily available to the public. Electronic comments are submitted to the Federal Register that manages the process. Written comments to the agency.

The notice-and-comment process enables anyone to submit a comment on any part of a proposed rule. It is not a vote on the legislation and an agency cannot make its final rule based on how many supported or opposed the rule. At the end of the process, the agency must base its reasoning and conclusions on the rulemaking record, consisting of the comments, scientific data, expert opinions and facts accumulated during the pre-rule and proposed rule stages.  To move forward with a final rule, the agency must conclude that its proposed solution with help accomplish the goals or solve the problems identified. 

If the rule making record contains persuasive new data or policy arguments, or poses difficult questions or criticisms, the agency may decide to terminate the rule making. Or the agency may decide to continue the rule making but change aspects of the rule to reflect these new issues.  (Information from A Guide to the Rule making Process prepared by the Office of the Federal Register)

A comment can express simple support or dissent for a regulatory action. However, a constructive, information-rich comment that clearly communicates and supports its claims is more likely to have an impact on regulatory decision making. Some tips for good comments:

  • Be concise but support your claims
  • Base your justification on sound reasoning, scientific evidence, and/or how you will be impacted
  • Address trade-offs and opposing views in your comment
  • If a rule raises many issues, do not feel obligated to comment on every one – select those issues that concern and affect you the most and/or you understand the best.
  • If you disagree with a proposed action, suggest an alternative (including not regulating at all) and include an explanation and/or analysis of how the alternative might meet the same objective or be more effective.
  • Consider including examples of how the proposed rule would impact you negatively or positively.
  • Click here for more tips.

Proposed Undoing of the Flores Settlement Agreement 

The Trump administration has proposed changes in regulations that would allow the U.S. government to detain immigrant children and families indefinitely. The administration’s proposal would curtail minimum standards for how to care for children held in federal custody – standards set by a court agreement that has guided U.S. policy on the treatment of such children for more than two decades.  On September 6, 2018, the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services said in a joint notice of proposed rule making that the new policy would “satisfy the basic purpose” of the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement by ensuring that migrant children “are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.”  But the proposed changes eliminate the 20-day limit on the detention of children, a limit the Trump administration has repeatedly mischaracterized as a “legal loophole” rather than a basic standard to ensure that children are treated with careTo learn more about the current regulations, read this Flores Settlement Agreement flyer produced by the Justice for Immigrants Campaign.  The proposed rule changes would allow the government to detain parents and children, or children who enter the country without adults, for the duration of their immigration court cases which, on average, take years to complete.  (From Maryknoll)

Please take action to protect immigrant children: 

SUBMIT A COMMENTClick here to register your opposition to the administration’s proposal and stand up for immigrant children’s safety. On the right-hand side, please adapt the template language in your comment. Identical comments will be counted as one comment.

CALL CONGRESSCall (866) 940-2439  three times to be connected to your 2 Senators and 1 Representative. Here is a sample script:  “I am your constituent from [CITY/TOWN], and [as a person of faith] I urge my Senator/Representative to reject family detention for immigrants. Incarcerating children with their parents is not a solution to family separation. Rather than detention, Congress and the administration should use and invest in community-based alternatives to detention such as the Family Case Management Program. Such an alternative is cost-effective and humane. My community welcomes and values immigrants, and we urge you to do the same.”

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

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