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U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D. DE) wants to make sure that immigration reform is done right:

WASHINGTON – A week before the first Senate hearing on immigration reform, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) joined U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) in penning a letter to their Senate colleagues urging their support to ensure that the immigration reforms ultimately considered by the Senate remain “grounded in civil and human rights, and ensure due process, equal treatment, and fairness.” Senators Coons, Blumenthal and Hirono are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senator Leahy chairs the committee.

“America is at a crossroads,” the senators wrote in a letter sent Wednesday morning. “The question we face is not only how much enforcement we need, but how we will bring our enforcement in line with our nation’s values.”

“Current immigration enforcement practices tear families apart and hurt people who know only America as home. More than one in every five people deported are parents of U.S. citizens. Thousands of people, including those seeking asylum, are unnecessarily detained at great expense to taxpayers even though they pose no threat to public safety. Our laws mandate detention or deportation for many people, denying them access to a hearing before a judge, without guaranteeing legal counsel for those who cannot afford it. Immigration enforcement measures frequently target minority and immigrant communities through impermissible racial profiling that instills fear and distrust of law enforcement and makes communities less safe. Our system is not fair. It is unnecessarily punitive and disproportionate.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on comprehensive immigration reform on Wednesday, February 13, at 9:30 a.m. - Political News, 2/10/13

In his letter, Coons emphasized these points:
We renew our commitment to fight for principled immigration reform that does the following:
1.Provides an enforcement process that matches our values. To the greatest extent possible, we should strive for a process that includes a fair hearing before a judge, a bond hearing, federal court review, and access to counsel.
2.Provides for the humane treatment of everyone detained by immigration authorities and ensures that no one is deprived of their liberty except as a last resort.
3.Reduces the impact of enforcement on children and families.
4.Clarifies that immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility and that it should be administered uniformly across the country.
5.Explicitly rejects discrimination and racial profiling.
6.Ensures that all agencies charged with enforcement operate with accountability and transparency. - Political News, 2/10/13
this is why I like Chris Coons.  He also reminded people that we still need to fix the problems people had with voting in last year's election:

In the 2012 elections, we saw voting machine irregularities in Pennsylvania and Colorado. We saw errors on voter rolls in Ohio and delays in ballot counting in Arizona. We saw voters waiting in line five hours in Virginia and eight hours in Florida.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama should make clear that such problems have no place in our elections, and he should challenge Congress to help prevent them from happening again.

As Americans, the right to vote is in our DNA. We have to do better than this, and we can do better if we take action now by challenging states to implement common-sense changes well before the next election.

The Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely (FAST) Voting Act, which I introduced just days after the November election, would incentivize states to turn around their poorest-performing polling places and improve the administration of their elections to make voting faster and more accessible to all voters.  

As a former county executive, I know that states are laboratories of democracy. When it comes to administering elections, many states and counties are getting it right, and it is important we learn from them and replicate their success elsewhere in the country. - The Hill, 2/1/13

Here's more info on the Louis L. Redding FAST Voting Act:

The Louis L. Redding Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely (FAST) Voting Act of 2012 confronts these problems by challenging states to turn around their poorest performing polling places. The FAST Voting Act of 2012 draws on the successful Race to the Top education reform program to reward states that make substantial improvements in the administration of their elections to make voting faster and more accessible to all voters.  

The program tasks applicant states with creating a comprehensive and coherent plan to improve their election processes by:

Providing flexible registration opportunities, including same-day registration;

Providing early voting, at a minimum of 9 of the 10 calendar days preceding an election;

Providing absentee voting, including no-excuse absentee voting;

Providing assistance to voters who do not speak English as a primary language;

Providing assistance to voters with disabilities, including visual impairment;

Providing effective access to voting for members of the armed services;

Providing formal training of election officials, including State and county administrators and volunteers;

Auditing and reducing waiting times at the poorest performing polling stations; and

Creating contingency plans for voting in the event of a natural or other disaster.

The program also requires an assessment of steps the state has taken to eliminate statutory, regulatory, procedural and other barriers to expedited voting and accessible voter registration.

The bill is named for Louis L. Redding, a prominent civil rights advocate who became the first African American to be admitted to the Delaware bar in 1929. He challenged school segregation in court and was part of the legal team that challenged Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court. -

Senator Mark Warner (D. VA) is a co-sponsor.  Hopefully this bill will gain some traction this year.  Even though Coons is safe, lets show him thanks for sticking up for fair immigration reform and our right to vote by donating to his 2014 campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 11:30 AM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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