ASP has 22 public policy students this semester, and they have done an outstanding job professionally engaging Washington, DC. The professional development process on the Public Policy Initiatives (PPI) track is an adventure. This semester, we are focusing on immigration policy in our first unit. Here’s a brief look at how we spent our first month.
The first sessions focused on “Policymaking 101: What the textbooks don’t teach us.” ASP hosted three professional lobbyists and policy advocates for a panel discussion on Best Practices in Policy Advocacy and Lobbying. Students spent over an hour with Walter Kuhn, Manager of Federal Government Affairs for Apple, Courtney Lang, founding principal of Langco Partners (and formerly in public advocacy roles for Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and the NBA), and Shapri LoMaglio, Government Relations Director for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
We then went to Capitol Hill to gain An Insiders’ Perspective on Policymaking in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. How are congressional offices organized and how do they operate? How did you establish a career on Capitol Hill? How does an office champion a piece of legislation? Is the policymaking process as broken as the media makes it appear? What impact can average citizens really make on the policymaking process? PPI students spent over an hour with Jay Sulzmann, Legislative Director for U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (10 years work experience on Capitol Hill), Melissa Fett, Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (ASP alumna and 4 years experience on the Hill), and Caroline Robinson, Legislative Assistant to U.S. Representative Sean Duffy (ASP alumna and 4 years experience on the Hill).
Then we turned our attention to a more intensive study of immigration policy. We organized our 22 PPI students into five policy taskforces, each studying a different policy debate relating to immigration. We held one-hour meetings with a number of immigration policy experts at various think tanks and advocacy groups.
Dr. Marc Rosenblum, Deputy Director of the U.S. Immigration Program at the Migration Policy Institute, and Faye Hipsman, Associate Policy Analyst.
Dr. Mark Hugo Lopez, Director of Hispanic Research at the Pew Research Center.
Eric Ruark, Director of Research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
James McCament, Acting Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (ASP alum).
Tom Jawetz, Democratic Chief Counsel for the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary—Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.
PPI concludes its first month by sending each policy taskforce out into the city on their own to conduct 2-3 personal interviews with additional policy stakeholders. In preparation for our field work days, students completed a small group workshop on personal interview preparation and protocols. ASP director, Dr. Peter Baker, and PPI coordinator, Erin Cox, played the primary role in setting up this first round of interviews, which included: American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Immigration Studies, Farmerworker Justice, the Heritage Foundation, National Conference of State Legislatures, Service Employees International Union, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
It’s amazing to see how far we’ve travelled in just a few short weeks. In two more weeks, the PPI taskforces will present their policy reports in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing room. We’ll report back then!