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Court Packing Becomes Issue in Presidential Campaign

The number of Supreme Court justices has become a flashpoint of disagreement between Republicans and Democrats this election season.

 

Some liberals are calling on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to embrace the idea of expanding the Supreme Court if they are elected in November. They argue that since Republicans are intent on pushing through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett prior to the election, then President Biden should support increasing the number of justices. They say this is a way to fix the conservative tilt that the high court will likely have for decades to come. 

 

Republicans argue this is playing politics with the Supreme Court, and have called on Biden and Harris to promise not to engage in what they call "court packing." So far, however, both members of the Democratic ticket have demurred.

 

The idea of expanding the Supreme Court’s membership in response to a disagreement over its ideological makeup was prominently championed by President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. Upset by court decisions invalidating part of his New Deal legislation, President Roosevelt suggested expanding the number of Supreme Court justices. There was an uproar in opposition to that idea, and Congress never acted on it.

 

The current calls to increase the number of Supreme Court justices is not new. There was also support to do this in response to President Trump's prior two Supreme Court nominations. At the time, these liberals contended that Senate Republicans’ played bare knuckle politics with their refusal to allow a vote on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland and to approve Brett Kavanaugh in light of sexual assault allegations. They argued that these two actions were illegitimate, so it would be only right to counter them by expanding the court’s membership when Democrats regain the White House and Congress. 

 

Opponents of court packing argue that once this process starts, it will lead to an ever-larger number of justices appointed for purely political reasons. They note that if Democrats expand the court’s membership when they control the presidency and Congress, then Republicans will do so when they regain both branches of government.

 

There are currently nine Supreme Court justices. This number is not set by the Constitution, so Congress and the president could pass legislation to alter it.

 

Should Joe Biden and Kamala Harris promise to oppose any efforts to increase the number of Supreme Court justices?

Virginia Voters to Decide on Redistricting Reform

How Virginia's congressional and legislative districts are drawn may change if Virginia voters give their approval in November.

 

Under Question 1, power to draw congressional and legislative districts would move from legislators to an independent commission. Supporters of this change to the state's constitution argue that allowing politicians to draw these districts leads to gerrymandering, which deprives many voters of a meaningful choice. They contend that independent commissions will consider politics less than politicians will. Opponents, however, contend that by giving this power to a commission, it takes away the chance of voters to hold their elected officials accountable for how districts are drawn.

 

Congressional and legislative lines must be drawn after every census. In 2011, Virginia legislators were unable to agree on new districts, since Democrats and Republicans split control of legislative chambers. Under an independent commission, this situation would not occur again. Legislators in two successive sessions supported resolutions that would give voters the chance to vote on making this change to the state constitution. 

 

If voters approve the creation of an independent redistricting commission, it would be composed of legislators from the Democratic and Republican parties as well as private citizens. The commission would draw maps that could then be approved or rejected by the Virginia General Assembly. Legislators could not amend the maps. If the General Assembly rejects the maps, the commission would draw another set of maps. If the General Assembly votes down these maps, then the Virginia Supreme Court would draw the lines.

 

Currently 7 states have similar independent commissions that draw congressional district lines, while 10 states have independent commissions to compose legislative districts. 

California Voters to Decide on 17-Year-Old Voting

In California, voters will decide whether some 17-year-olds will be able to vote in primary and special elections.

 

Under Proposition 18, 17-year-old Californians who will be 18 at the time of the next general election can register and vote in special elections and primaries.Voters will be asked to approve the proposed constitutional amendment during this year’s election, which will go into effect for the next election cycle.

 

Backers of this amendment argue that this allows greater participation for young voters in elections. They note that primary and special elections are part of the election cycle, so if someone will be 18-years-old for the general election, it makes sense to allow them to participate in these other elections. Opponents, however, counter that people who are legally minors should not be participating in the election process.

 

California legislators voted to place Proposition 18 on the ballot during their legislative session this year. It was overwhelmingly supported by Democratic legislators but nearly all Republicans voted against it.

 

Eighteen other states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections as long at they will be 18-years-old by the time of the general election.

 

Do you think that 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the general election should be able to vote in primaries and special elections?

Trump Floats Idea of Delaying Election

President Trump has consistently been expressing his view that lack of in-person voting will reduce the integrity of this year's election. This morning, he suggested a way to deal with these fears: delaying the election.

 

In a tweet, he wrote: 

 

With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???

 

For presidential electors, the Constitution states: "The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States." The Constitution also gives Congress the power to set election procedures for members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. During the early history of the republic, there was no uniform Election Day. But by 1854, Congress stepped in and fixed the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November as the day when voters choose presidential electors and members of the House and Senate.

 

While the Constitution does not mandate any specific day for Election Day, it does mandate that presidents must be inaugurated on January 20. Any election would have to be conducted prior to then, giving enough time for presidential electors to meet, cast their votes, then have those votes counted by Congress. Current law requires that electoral votes be counted during a joint session of Congress during the first week of January.

 

While President Trump may be open to the idea of delaying the election, he has no power to do this unilaterally. Only Congress can pass a law to set Election Day, and obtaining enough votes to do so is unlikely. In the event Congress did, any delay could not be for a significant period of time, since the new president must take office on January 20.

 

Do you think that this year's elections should be delayed?

Democrats Reject Marijuana Legalization Plank

As the Democrats prepare their party platform for the 2020 election, advocates for marijuana legalization suffered a blow. Their efforts to obtain support from the Democratic Party for full legalization of marijuana failed by a vote of 50-106 this week.

 

As marijuana legalization becomes more popular with the public, advocates had been pressing for the Democratic party to embrace this position, too. The Democratic National Committee is meeting this week to prepare the party’s platform, and some members put forward a proposal to amend the platform to back full legalization. That vote failed, however.

 

Instead, the platform will continue to have language in it that supports marijuana decriminalization and federal recognition of state laws that relax marijuana penalties. This is in line with what presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden supports.

 

That stance, while significantly different from the GOP platform, does not go far enough for many of the Democratic Party’s base voters. They argue that marijuana laws are used to harm people of color and minority communities. They say that marijuana legalization is a necessary part of criminal justice reform. 

 

The issue of marijuana’s legal status has been a growing concern in recent years. States across the nation have legalized it for recreational use, joining many states that also allow it for medicinal use. However, the drug is still on the federal controlled substances list. So while states may not recognize marijuana as being illegal, the federal government still does. That puts marijuana businesses and users in a legal limbo that will only change with changes in federal marijuana law.

 

Do you think that marijuana should be legalized?

Supreme Court Allows States to Punish Faithless Electors

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that states have the power to punish or remove electors who break their pledges to support specific candidates.

 

Justice Elena Kagan wrote for 7 fellow justices, saying that the Constitution’s text and the history of the Electoral College demonstrate that states have latitude to punish or replace faithless electors. Justice Clarence Thomas came to the same conclusion, although he said that the Tenth Amendment protects states’ power to set limits on electors.

 

When voters cast their ballot for president, they vote for electors who then make the binding vote for president. Electors take a pledge to support a certain candidate for office. Occasionally, electors vote for different candidates than the ones they are pledged to support. In 2016, there were more faithless electors than in any previous election, with ten electors in five states. Two more electors tried to vote for someone other than their pledged candidate, but were replaced.

 

The Supreme Court concerned three of these electors from Washington and one in Colorado. After they cast their votes for someone other than Hillary Clinton, who won their states’ popular vote, the Washington electors were fined and the Colorado elector was replaced. The justices ruled in the case concerning the Colorado elector, but the reasoning applies to the Washington case, too.

 

While not directly affecting other efforts to change the way the Electoral College works, this ruling does appear to confirm that states can reform how they assign electoral votes. Some states want to require electors to vote for the winner of the national popular vote, for instance.

 

What do you think about the Electoral College?

Two States Allowing Online Voting

This week, some West Virginia voters cast their ballots via computers and smartphones. Next month, Delaware voters will have the same opportunity. As the coronavirus disrupts elections across the nation, some states are looking at online voting. But experts warn this type of voting comes with big risks.

 

In West Virginia, anyone who requested an absentee ballot could vote online. Delaware officials will permit voters who are self-isolating due to the coronavirus epidemic cast their ballots via the Internet. These states say that this type of voting is a good way to allow people to exercise their right to vote while also taking into account the restrictions and protocols necessary to keep people safe.

 

Security experts, however, have pointed out security flaws with the software being used by these states. With the votes moving through the cloud, they are vulnerable to hackers, say the experts. West Virginia and Delaware point to the security measures they are taking. However, since voting is an anonymous and private activity, voters will have no way to check to see if their votes were accurately cast or counted.

 

Some people see Internet voting as the way most ballots will be cast in the future. They say that if the security is tight, then people should be free to cast their votes online. However, security experts say that right now widespread online voting has significant risks.

 

During the coronavirus epidemic, many states have expanded their vote-by-mail efforts, but only these two states have embraced online voting.

 

Do you support online voting?

Voting by Mail Facing Praise, Criticism

With voting in person deemed a risky activity during the coronavirus epidemic, states are turning to mail-in ballots as a way to conduct their elections. This has garnered praise from many people, who see it as a safer way to vote. But it has also raised the ire of many, including President Trump, who argue mail-in ballots are ripe for fraud.

 

Currently, five states conduct all their elections by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah. In these states, all registered voted receive a ballot and must mail them back by Election Day. There is also limited in-person voting locations where voters can visit during early voting or can drop off their ballots on Election Day.

 

The coronavirus epidemic has caused other states to temporarily embrace all-mail elections this year. Many of these states are treating this as a temporary matter. While shutdown orders were in effect, state officials concluded it would not be safe to open polling places. Instead, they put in place procedures to allow registered voters to request absentee ballots.

 

In addition, states such as Massachusetts are passing laws that will make it easier to vote by mail in future elections. These new laws would not move to election conducted completely by mail, but would expand the instances where people could request absentee ballots.

 

Some voting rights activists support these moves, saying that it should be easier for people to vote in any manner they want, including through the mail. They say this will help boost political participation among those who have difficulty making it to the polls. But President Trump, among others, have criticized mail-in voting, saying that it opens up large opportunities for fraud. The president says voting-by-mail is a plan by Democrats to help their party win elections.

 

Do you think it should be easier to vote by mail?

Supreme Court Takes up Faithless Electors Case

With the U.S. facing another spirited presidential election contest, the Supreme Court is considering whether states can punish “faithless electors.”

 

Under the U.S. system, voters do not vote directly for the person they want as president. Instead, they vote for electors who then cast votes for president. In every state, these electors are part of a slate that are pledged to candidates of each political party. However, some electors vote for different candidates than the ones they are pledged to vote for. Most states have laws that seek to punish these “faithless electors,” and these laws are at issue before the Supreme Court.

 

In 2016, there were more faithless electors than in any previous election, with ten electors in five states. Two more electors tried to vote for someone other than their pledged candidate, but were replaced.

 

The Supreme Court is hearing the case of three of these electors from Washington and one in Colorado. After they cast their votes for someone other than Hillary Clinton, who won their states’ popular vote, the Washington electors were fined and the Colorado elector was replaced. A federal appeals court ruled that the state could not punish them, while the Washington Supreme Court upheld their fines.

 

The question before the court is whether states have the power to control what electors do. States say they should be able to punish faithless electors to ensure that the voters’ will is respected. Others argue that the Founding Fathers set up a system where people choose electors who then are free to choose the best person for president, and states should not intrude upon this.

 

Do you think that states should be able to punish faithless electors?

Coronavirus Causes Controversy over Election Procedures

Republicans and Democrats are battling over how states should change their election procedures in response to the coronavirus.

 

In key battleground states, Democrats are pushing to make it easier for people to vote by mail. They argue that the coronavirus epidemic shows the need to give voters more options to cast their ballots. Among the items they are supporting is mailing a ballot to every registered voter or moving elections to exclusively vote-by-mail.

 

The Trump campaign and Republicans in these states are pushing back on these ideas. They acknowledge that steps need to be taken to deal with election-related consequences of the coronavirus, but they contend that these should not permanently alter election procedures. They also say that some of the moves being pushed by Democrats will open the door to voter fraud.

 

With a handful of states yet to hold primary elections in the coming months, states are moving to increase the use of mail-in ballots and absentee ballots. It remains to be seen what will happen for the November general election. If the social distancing orders are no longer in place, there will be less urgency to alter election procedures. But if there is still a need to keep people separated to slow the spread of the virus, or if the coronavirus has another outbreak at this time, there will be a strong movement to change how the election is conducted.

 

What changes, if any, should states make to their election procedures in response to the coronavirus?

States Moving to Vote-By-Mail During Epidemic

Most states held their primary elections prior to the onset of social distancing restrictions related to the coronavirus. For states which have yet to conduct their primaries, many are pursuing voting-by-mail as the only viable option in this time when large gatherings are banned.

 

Currently, five states conduct all their elections by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah. In these states, all registered voted receive a ballot and must mail them back by Election Day. There is also limited in-person voting locations where voters can visit during early voting or can drop off their ballots on Election Day.

 

Many states have enacted bans on large groups gathering in public and have restricted travel outside the home due to the coronavirus. This has put in jeopardy the ability of these states to conduct any primary elections that have yet to occur.


In response, these states are expanding their absentee ballot process to conduct primaries. Under these procedures, people will still have to request an absentee ballot. There will be no in-person voting locations. States conducting primary elections in this way include Ohio and Idaho.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing for greater federal aid for states to assist in ramping up vote-by-mail efforts. She says the coronavirus epidemic has shown that states need to move towards allowing this type of voting in more circumstances. President Trump is pushing back, however, arguing that holding elections exclusively by mail will result in more vote fraud.

 

What do you think of voting by mail?

 

 

Virginia to End Requirement of Photo ID for Voting

In 2012, Virginia enacted a law requiring a photo identification for voting. This week, legislators passed a bill that ends this requirement.

 

Under HB 19, voters could show documents such as bank statements or pay-stubs in order to prove their identity and vote. They can also sign an affidavit attesting to their identity if they do not have these documents. They would no longer be required to produce a photo ID at their polling place.

 

This change, led by Democrats, undoes legislation that the previous governor, Bob McDonnell, signed into law eight years ago. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has said he supports ending the photo ID requirement.

 

Supporters of changing the law contend that strict voter ID laws make it more difficult to vote. They say that they disproportionately impact minorities and the poor, so are a way to reduce Democratic turnout. Opponents of ending the photo ID requirement argue that this is a good way to prevent voter fraud. They point out that many areas in life require photo ID, so it is not a hardship to require it for voting.

 

There have been pushes in many states to require photo IDs for voting. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that such laws were not unconstitutional.


Do you think that voters should show a photo ID before voting?

Virginia to Replace Lee-Jackson Day with Election Day Holiday

A day honoring Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson may soon be removed from the list of Virginia state holidays. Instead, legislators want to give Election Day that honor.

 

Both the Virginia House and Senate have passed bills that would make Election Day a state holiday. This new holiday would replace Lee-Jackson Day, which is currently celebrated on the Friday prior to Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Election Day was a holiday in Virginia until 1989.

 

Supporters of this idea argue that it will encourage voting by giving people the day off. They also say that Virginia should not celebrate Confederate generals, so ending Lee-Jackson Day is a good trade-off for an Election Day holiday. Opponents counter that there is no need to make Election Day a holiday, since the polls are open all-day and voters can request absentee ballots. They also argue that ending Lee-Jackson day is a blow to the state’s history.

 

Governor Ralph Northam said he supports this legislation.

 

Democrats in the legislature had been pushing to end Lee-Jackson Day for many years. However, the Republican-controlled legislature had never passed such legislation. With Democrats gaining control of both houses of the legislature in 2019, this bill is now likely to become law soon.

 

Do you think Virginia should have a holiday honoring Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson? Should Election Day be a holiday?

Massachusetts May Lower Voting Age to 16 for Local Elections

Legislators in Massachusetts are considering legislation that could result in some high school students gaining the vote.

 

Under this proposal, municipalities could request that the state allow them to permit residents who are 16-years-old and 17-years-old to vote in these local elections. The change would not be made statewide; it would only be considered for those jurisdictions that request it. If approved, these young voters would not be allowed to cast ballots in elections for legislators, state officials, or federal officers.

 

Supporters of the bill say that it will help spur civic participation from younger people, getting them involved in the political process. They note that municipal government decisions affect teenagers, so it is fair for them to have a say in selecting their officials. However, this proposal has met resistance for people who say that teenagers have not fully developed enough to be making such important decisions.

 

A legislative committee held a hearing on the bill last month. Some cities in the state have passed ordinances asking for this change to state law. It is unclear, however, if this legislation has enough support in the legislature to pass. It is also unknown if Gov. Deval Patrick will support it.

 

Do you support allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in city elections?

Warren Pledges to Unilaterally Eliminate Federal Student Loan Debt

Elizabeth Warren says that American’s student debt load is a crisis, and she wants to get rid of it. She has recently said that, if elected, she plans on using her authority to start canceling student debt on her first day in office. She said that there is no need for Congress to approve such a move.

 

Under her plan, upon taking office she would immediately begin canceling up to $50,000 in debt for 42 million Americans. This would cover about 95% of those who have borrowed money from the federal government.

 

This is not new territory for Warren. She has previously announced a higher education plan that has as its centerpiece the forgiveness of student loan debt. Much of the forgiveness focuses on borrowers who have incomes under $100,000 a year. Under that proposal, however, Warren would seek legislation from Congress to eliminate debt. Her recent announcement relies upon a legal theory that the Secretary of Education already has the authority to begin such debt forgiveness.

 

According to Warren, this student loan debt is crushing middle class families and holding them back from achieving the American Dream. Her plan is costly, but she says she will finance it by imposing a tax on the highest income earners. Critics argue that her proposal is an expensive taxpayer giveaway to people who can afford to pay the money they borrowed, since they have an education that should lead to higher-paid work.

 

If Warren is elected president and attempted to eliminate these loans without congressional authorization, it is likely she would face a legal challenge.


Do you support Elizabeth Warren’s plan to end federal student debt without congressional approval?

Judge Halts North Carolina Voter ID Law

North Carolina voters will not be required to show identification before voting in that state’s 2020 primary.

 

In 2018, North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment that allowed the legislature to enact a voter ID law. In December of that year, the Republican-controlled legislature approved a law enacting a voter ID mandate. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed it, but legislators overrode his veto. There have been ongoing legal battles over the law since then.

 

Supporters of a voter ID law say that it is necessary to ensure that only legal voters take part in elections. They contend that making voters show ID is a good way to combat voter fraud. Opponents counter that this is a law designed to make it more difficult for minorities and the poor to vote. They say that the real intention is to disenfranchise Democratic voters, not combat voter fraud.

 

This week, a federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of the law. He has said that it should not go into effect until courts settle whether or not this law is constitutional. His ruling does not invalidate the voter ID requirement, but does suspend it for the 2020 primary election.

 

A federal case over a previous North Carolina voter ID law resulted in that law being declared unconstitutional because of its effect on minority voters.

 

Do you support voter ID laws?

Bloomberg Backs Federal Permits for Gun Owners

Michael Bloomberg has long championed gun control policies, both as a private citizen and as mayor of New York. Now that he’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination, he has unveiled a sweeping package of proposals that would enact a variety of new restrictions on gun purchases and ownership.

 

These are a few of the initiatives being proposed by Bloomberg:

  • Mandate a federal license prior to any individual purchasing a gun
  • Require every gun purchase complete a background check
  • Enact a federal “red flag” law that allows police to seize guns from individuals who are suspected of being a threat
  • Prohibit individuals from publishing plans for 3-D guns online
  • Raise the federal age to purchase guns to 21
  • Ban “assault weapons”
  • Enact a law that sets federal rules on how individuals store their guns
  • Increase funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms as well as funding for gun violence research
  • Mandate a 48-hour waiting period for gun purchases
  • Require gun owners to report if their guns are lost or stolen within 3 days
  • Repeal the federal law that restricts lawsuits against gun manufacturers

 

Many of these proposals are also backed by other candidates running for the Democratic nomination. However, Bloomberg has a long history of gun control advocacy. He has donated significant sums of money to organizations and candidates who has pushed this issue, and he’s making it a centerpiece of his campaign.

 

According to Bloomberg, these new federal restrictions are necessary to stem the tide of gun violence. He sees them as a way to reduce gun deaths and make our communities safer. Opponents, however, say that they will only infringe upon the rights of lawful gun owners. They also argue that many of these ideas infringe upon the Second Amendment.

 

Do you support requiring a federal license for someone who wants to purchase a gun? Should there be a 48-hour waiting period for gun purchases?

Bloomberg Repudiates “Stop and Frisk”

Throughout his tenure as New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg was a vigorous defender of the controversial police practice known as “stop and frisk.” On Sunday, however, he apologized for his past actions. Some see this as a belated acknowledgement of the harms caused by this practice, while others view his apology as a purely political move.

 

Bloomberg recently announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. Many observers said that he would have trouble appealing to the liberal base of the party due to his staunch defense of “stop and frisk.” This policy was one used extensively by the New York City Police Department to stop individuals and frisk them for weapons. Critics said it was an unconstitutional search of people who had done nothing wrong. They also said that the city was targeting minorities in its use. Then-Mayor Bloomberg defended the policy, saying it was vital to keeping illegal weapons off city streets, but courts severely curtailed its use.

 

While speaking at an African-American church this week, Bloomberg said, “I can’t change history. However today, I want you to know that I realize back then I was wrong.” He specifically noted that this policy was applied largely to black and Latino men.

 

The Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable search and seizure. Federal courts held that “stop and frisk” could be constitutional if narrowly applied, but that New York’s use was problematic. At the time of the legal challenge over this practice, Mayor Bloomberg vigorously defended it, dismissing the idea that New York police were violating the Constitution.

 

Do you think that Michael Bloomberg should have apologized for New York City’s use of “stop and frisk” to detain people and search for weapons?

Biden Unveils $1.3 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

Today former Vice President Joe Biden announced an infrastructure plan that he says will “rebuild the middle class.” Critics say that it will impose a huge tax burden on Americans.

 

These are some of the key aspects of Biden’s proposal:

  • A $50 billion federal initiative to repair roads and bridges
  • Secure “new revenues” for the Highway Trust Fund, a federal fund collecting revenue from fuel taxes
  • Spend $5 billion to research new battery technology
  • Use federal resources to expand the electric car charging system
  • Spend $500 billion in clean energy research
  • Expand rail service
  • Provide public transportation to cities with 100,000 residents or more
  • Target $10 billion to high-poverty areas to improve public transit
  • Promote infrastructure that leads to a 100% clean energy economy
  • Create a federal program to promote building energy efficiency
  • Provide broadband service to every American household
  • Create a new federal program to spend $100 billion in school buildings

 

This plan gathers together many proposals put forward by liberal and progressive groups and elected officials. Biden argues that they will transform the economy for the future, providing good jobs for the middle class and helping clean the environment. Those who support these programs argue that it is vital that the federal government invest in this vision to ensure the U.S. has a sustainable future.


Critics, however, see these ideas as both unrealistic and expensive. They note that it’s easy to say that these programs will achieve their goals, but similar government initiatives in the past have failed. They also note the high price tag for such a program, saying that taxes will have to go up to pay for it or the government will have to go deeper in debt.

 

Biden faces a crowded field of rivals for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. It remains to be seen if ideas like these will help him win votes from the left wing of the party being courted by other candidates such as Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

 

Do you support the federal government paying for more high-speed rail service? Should there be a federal push for a 100% clean-energy economy?

 

Sanders Proposes to Liberalize Immigration Laws

Calling President Trump “a racist, a xenophobe, and a demagogue,” Senator Bernie Sanders today unveiled his proposal to reverse the Trump Administration immigration actions and make major changes to U.S. immigration law.

 

Among other things, the Sanders plan would:

  • Reverse President Trump’s executive actions that affect immigrants, including the travel ban and restrictions on asylum
  • Put a moratorium on deportations
  • Provide legal status to individuals in the DACA program (immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children)
  • Stop deportations of undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for longer than 5 years
  • Ask Congress to pass legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants
  • Decriminalize illegal border crossing
  • Provide illegal immigrants with the right to legal counsel in deportation hearings
  • Restructure ICE and the Border Patrol
  • Reform worker visas to allow immigrants to work in more places
  • Focus immigration law enforcement on employers, not workers
  • Mandate a $15 minimum wage for farm workers
  • Lift the cap on refugee admissions

 

Many of these proposals are direct repudiations of Trump Administration immigration policies. In line with his position on the left wing of the Democratic Party, Sen. Sanders is focusing on penalizing employers over immigrants when it comes to enforcing current immigration laws. He is also supporting programs that would allow more immigrants into the U.S. and make it easier for those who are in the U.S. to remain here.

 

In the past, Sen. Sanders has criticized what he characterizes as “open border” policies as being a way for business owners to undermine U.S. workers’ rights. This plan is his attempt to spell out exactly what he would do as president when it comes to immigration reform. Many of these proposals would require action by Congress.

 

Do you support putting a moratorium on deportations? Should immigration enforcement focus on business owners who are using illegal immigrant labor?

 

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