I believe that as a nation founded on the premise of equality and democracy, our laws and our government should treat every American fairly regardless of their race, gender, socio-economic status, religion or any other quality. Unfortunately, those founding principles have not always been applied consistently to women, to people of color, to immigrants, and to many other groups. In order to protect our democracy, we need to ensure our laws, our justice system, and every part of our government offers equal rights and equal access to every American
Over 50 years ago, Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act to ensure that all Americans have access to the foundation of our democracy, the right to vote. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, has weakened these federal protections. I will work to ensure that Congress remains vigilant in protecting the hard-fought gains of the Civil Rights Movement that expand access to the ballot.
In the past several years, numerous states have passed laws to require identification at the polls and impose additional restrictions that make it more difficult to vote. Many of the new laws disproportionately affect low-income individuals, minorities, and young people. While protecting the integrity of elections is extremely important, there should be no restrictions that infringe on the fundamental right to vote. Instead of making voting more difficult, I am working to pass laws that make it easier for Americans to register to vote and to gain access to the ballot box.
A nation of immigrants, the United States is a melting pot of different cultures, experiences, and perspectives. Since the founding of this nation, people from across the world have come to the United States in search of opportunities and freedoms. I am working hard to support common sense immigration policies that support people seeking freedom, security, and access.
Voting in favor of H.R. 240, I supported the appropriation of resources towards sound immigration policy and supported President Obama's efforts to grant amnesty to undocumented persons. Alongside this legislative effort, I voted against the Blackburn amendment of H.R. 240 which sought to defund the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a vital policy for protecting undocumented children from deportation.
Immigrants enrich the American landscape and strengthen the economy. I endorses legislation that supports immigrants as they pursue and proudly reflect, the American dream.
Criminal Justice/ Reentry
While the criminal justice system in the United States is among the strongest in the world, there are considerable reforms that need to be made. With over 700,000 people entering prisons each year and an additional 9 million Americans going through local jails, prisons are overcrowded, taxpayer dollars are infused into a system in which 67.8% of ex-convicts reenter prison within three years, and prisoners often do not receive the resources needed to ensure a smooth transition into society.
I have been at the forefront of the movement to bring about reforms within the criminal justice system. As the Majority Leader in the NJ State Assembly, I sponsored a legislative package that enables ex-convicts to enter the work force after completing their sentencing. The passage of the revolutionary piece of legislation has been hallmarked as a blueprint for legislative efforts concerning prison reentry. I will continue to work tirelessly to bring about reform in the criminal justice system and ensure that it promotes ex-convict rehabilitation, recidivism reduction, and the reduction of the amount of taxpayer dollars needed to support prisons.
Our great nation has evolved tremendously in ensuring that the rights of all Americans are protected, but the fact remains that the fight for a fair and just society continues. Pay disparities between men and women, racial disparities in access to a high-quality public education, alarmingly disproportionate rates of profiling youth of color, and well-needed mainstream reinforcements for people living with disabilities, are just a few issues that confirm our need for strong stances on civil rights.
Possessing the ability to create legislation, Congress plays a vital role in protecting and promoting the civil rights of all Americans- notably, for those whose civil rights are most vulnerable to infringement. I will use my position to advocate for all Americans including people of color, women, LGBT, people, people with disabilities, and any American whose civil rights warrant proactive legislative considerations. Representing the incredibly diverse 12th Congressional District, I am an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. I am working to pass laws that promote fairness and equality in this nation.