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Political, immigration scholars available to discuss Trump State of the Union themes

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

LAWRENCE — Pundits expect President Donald Trump in Tuesday's State of the Union address to focus on brokering an immigration policy deal as the backdrop of partisan fights and the Russia investigation weigh heavily on his presidency.

University of Kansas scholars are available to discuss political issues and topics surrounding the address and the Democratic response from Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III.

Patrick Miller, assistant professor of political science, can speak about the national political climate. Miller's research focuses on media and politics, race and politics, elections, campaign finance, public opinion and surveys.

"Typically these speeches are bipartisan. But Trump obviously defies normal patterns of behavior. I would not be surprised if we had both some partisan red meat and some seemingly bipartisan lines," Miller said. "Of course, when he strikes a good note he often undermines it later with his social media statements. And we have seen plenty of times that a statement of his position or political desires one day does not always predict what he says the next."

Mariya Omelicheva, associate professor of political science, can discuss U.S.-Russian policy relations. Omelicheva's broad research focuses on international relations, security policy, state security and human rights, and Russian foreign policy. She has authored several recent articles on Russian politics and foreign policy.

Don Haider-Markel, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, can discuss issues surrounding LGBT policy issues, policing, counterterrorism and gun politics. His broad research portfolio includes these issues in American politics.

Haider-Markel said he expected Trump to likely reference counterterrorism efforts, possible policing efforts, and gun policies after recent mass shootings in Las Vegas and elsewhere. He said it's unlikely Trump would mention LGBT issues.

"That itself would be notable given his attempt to ban transgender military service," Haider-Markel said.

Cecilia Menjívar, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Sociology and co-leader of the KU Center for Migration Research, is an expert on U.S.-bound migration policy and on how laws and the legal context in countries that receive immigrants, particularly from Central America, influence their lives. The Trump administration has sought to overhaul U.S. immigration policy, and the issue has led to a recent stalemate in Congress, including a brief government shutdown.

The Trump administration also recently announced it was ending a humanitarian program, known as Temporary Protected Status, for Haitians and Salvadorans. In June 2017, Menjívar led research for a national report that found immigrants on Temporary Protected Status generally do better than undocumented immigrants in educational attainment and civic engagement in their communities.

Bartholomew Dean, associate professor of anthropology and research associate in KU's Laboratory of Biological Anthropology, can discuss issues surrounding immigration policy, including the root issues that contribute to migration.

Dean is a political anthropologist who studies Peru and Mexico and has considerable pro bono experience in the field of immigration law in those countries. He is also currently participating in immigration rights advocacy in the Kansas City area.

To arrange an interview with any of the scholars, contact George Diepenbrock at 785-864-8853 or gdiepenbrock@ku.edu.