U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware

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  • Eight of Senator Coons’ amendments now part of immigration bill

    Senate Judiciary Committee

    By the end of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s five-day markup of comprehensive immigration reform legislation, members had approved eight of Senator Coons’ amendments. The Committee voted 13-5 to approve the amended version of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, on Tuesday night.

    Coons1 - E-Verify Notification
    As amended, this amendment strengthens privacy protections by requiring the Department of Homeland Security to establish procedures to notify individuals whenever their E-Verify record is accessed, and to provide direct notification whenever E-Verify returns a “non-confirmation” or “further action notice”, which will help individuals protect their identity and will combat fraud and misuse of the system.
    - Adopted by voice vote on May 20

    Coons2 – Limitation on Dangerous Deportation Practices
    As amended, this amendment places strict limitations on the dangerous practice of repatriating undocumented immigrants in the middle of the night. It also requires the Department of Homeland Security to issue a report on how its deportation practices mitigate the threats that migrants face immediately after deportation.
    - Adopted as amended on May 14 

    Coons3 - Mustafa Akarsu Local Guard Force Support Act
    This amendment allows the surviving spouse and children of an employee of the United States government abroad killed in the line of duty to qualify for a Special Immigrant Visa, so long as the employee has served for 15 years and provided that a Foreign Service Officer endorses the application.
    - Adopted by voice vote on May 21

    Coons5 - Discovery Obligation for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement
    Under current law, immigrants in removal are entitled to non-privileged, unclassified documents regarding their status, but are required to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain them. This amendment streamlines the process by requiring the government to produce those documents up front, eliminating the three- to six-month delay that accompanies the Freedom of Information Act requests, consistent with other laws concerning confidentiality, privilege, and national security.  This amendment will lead to the more expeditious resolution of removal cases, saving time, detention costs, and court resources.
    - Adopted by voice vote on May 20

    Coons6 – Detention Statistics Tracking
    As amended, this amendment requires the Executive Office of Immigration Review, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Patrol to better maintain and report information pertaining to immigrants in deportation proceedings, including: authority for custodial detention; place of detention and apprehension; number of days in each detention location; immigration charges against the alien; the status of the alien’s removal proceedings; internal custody determinations by ICE and the basis therefor; the reasons for ultimate release, if applicable; and whether the alien is represented by counsel.
    - Adopted as amended by voice vote on May 20

    Coons8 - Asylum Clock
    Under current law, asylum applicants are entitled to a work authorization 180 days after filing a non-frivolous petition. However, Immigration Judges often stop that “clock” due to reasons completely unrelated to the merits of the asylum claim, including delays requested by DHS.  Immigration Judges are encouraged to meet efficiency metrics under a clock managed by EOIR (a division of DOJ), but under current policy, DHS uses this same clock to deny asylum applicants work authorization to which they would otherwise be entitled. This amendment de-couples the clocks and clarify that asylum applicants receive work authorization 180 days after filing a non-frivolous petition.
    - Adopted by voice vote on May 20

    Coons10 - Non-discriminatory Access to Licensure
    This amendment provides that DREAMers and immigrants on the new Registered Provisional Immigrant (“RPI”) status have nondiscriminatory access to professional, commercial, and business licenses.  This amendment only protects immigrants who are qualified to receive licenses.  It will ensure that these professionals and business owners abide by regulations that protect public safety and public health.
    - Adopted as amended on May 10

    Coons12 - Torture Victims Protection Act
    The immigration bill provides that persons who are found liable under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 are excludable and subject to removal.  The TVPA applies to torturers but not against those who conduct genocide, war crimes, and widespread or systemic attacks on civilian population.  This amendment amends the TVPA to cover those acts.
    - Adopted by voice vote on May 20

    Blumenthal8 - Limitation of Enforcement Raids in Schools, Places of Worship, and Funerals
    Senator Coons introduced a virtually identical version, but withdrew it and cosponsored Senator Blumenthal’s amendment. As amended, this amendment limits the ability of ICE and CBP from targeting schools, hospitals, and places of worship for enforcement raids, unless authorized by a high-level Department official or necessary in the event of an emergency.
    - Adopted by voice vote on May 20

    Hatch9 – STEM Education Fund
    As amended, this amendment, which Senator Coons cosponsored, creates a STEM Education and Training Fund to promote education initiatives that will help meet the needs of the new economy. The STEM Fund concept was first introduced in the Hatch-Coons-Rubio-Klobuchar bill entitled the Immigration Innovation Act.  This amendment recognizes the need to not only fill the existing skills gap in STEM fields with foreign-born talent, but also to invest in future generations born here at home.    The amendment also provides funds for STEM capacity building at Minority Serving Institutions and for new “American Dream Accounts,” to help low-income students trace a path to successful careers in STEM fields.
    - Adopted by voice vote on May 14

    Tags:
    American Dream Accounts
    Immigration
    Judiciary
    Judiciary Committee
    STEM
  • Video: Senator Coons' passionate speech about helping kids get to college

    Speaking at a forum organized by Opportunity Nation and CFED on Capitol Hill last week, Senator Coons made an impassioned case for doing more to help kids from low-income families save for college, sharing his own personal experience working with at-risk kids with the "I Have a Dream" Foundation.

    Tags:
    American Dream Accounts
    College Accessibility
    Video
  • SOTU Analysis: Educating our children

    In this series of blog posts, Senator Coons’ legislative staff shares their analysis of the President’s State of the Union address with Delawareans.

    State of the Union

    In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed making high-quality preschool education available to every child in America.  Research shows that high-quality early education can have a meaningful impact on a young person's life.  

    Senator Coons is a strong believer in the importance of early childhood education.  He is a co-sponsor the Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act, legislation authored by Senator Bob Casey to promote state investment in early learning and help states build and strengthen systems of high-quality early learning and development programs.  

    Delaware is a national leader in early childhood education and in December 2011 was named a winner in the Race to the Top — Early Learning Challenge.

    In addition to investing in early learning, President Obama focused his State of the Union remarks on meeting the critical challenge of making higher education more affordable and accessible for more students – something Chris has been working on since before he was elected to the Senate.

    President Obama called on Congress to "change the Higher Education Act, so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid” and announced the launch of a new White House college scorecard to help students and parents see where they can get the most “educational bang for their buck.”

    Chris worked with Republicans and Democrats to introduce the American Dream Accounts Act, legislation that would help increase the number of low-income students able to access and complete a college education.  

  • What We’re Reading: High school graduation rate is highest in 40 years

    Flag for What We're Reading

    The Washington Post published an article on Tuesday reporting that the percentage of students at public high schools who graduate on time has reached its highest level in nearly 40 years. According to research conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, 78 percent of students across the nation in the Class of 2010 are estimated to have earned a diploma within four years of starting high school. The last time the graduation rate was at that level was in 1974.

    High school graduation rates are one measure of school success, and educators and policymakers have been trying for decades to stem the number of U.S. students who drop out of high school.

    ……

    High school graduation rates have a significant effect on the economy, according to a study last year by America’s Promise Alliance, a foundation created by Colin L. Powell. On average, high school graduates earn $130,000 more over their lifetimes than peers who drop out of school, the study said.

    Senator Coons has made education reform a priority. In March, he introduced the American Dream Accounts Act to help increase the number of low-income students able to access and complete a college education after graduating from high school.

    Click here to learn more about Chris’ work towards increasing college access.

    Click here to read the full article on the Washington Post’s website.

    Tags:
    American Dream Accounts
    Education
    Education Reform
    Schools
    What We're Reading
  • Senator Coons urges students to use new financial aid tools

    The U.S. Department of Education announced on Friday a new streamlined website and social media tools that will make it easier for students and families to navigate the financial aid process and make informed decisions about paying for college. Senator Coons encouraged Delaware students and families to take advantage of these new tools, which are designed to be fully accessible on tablets and smartphones.

    Included on the new website is an interactive tool to help borrowers who have fallen behind on their federal or private student loan payments. The tool provides tips to borrowers with private student loans on how to negotiate with debt collectors.

    Students now have more online options to learn about financial aid, including on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

    Chris has been a longtime advocate for college accessibility. Earlier this year, he introduced the American Dream Accounts Act to help increase the number of low-income students able to access and complete a college education. The bill would authorize the Department of Education to award three-year competitive grants to support innovative and comprehensive partnerships that support low-income students in preparation for a college education.

    Click here to learn more about Chris’ work on improving America’s education system. 

    Tags:
    American Dream Accounts
    College Accessibility
    Education
    Student Loans
  • Celebrating National Teacher Day

    All of us can remember teachers who made a difference in our lives. Great teachers can encourage students to reach for their dreams and succeed in school. As we recognize National Teacher Day on May 8, we pause to thank the dedicated teachers in Delaware and across the nation who work tirelessly to educate their students.

    Delaware is full of teachers who are working to ensure that the next generation of Delawareans have the resources they need to succeed. Senator Coons has made it a priority to visit a number of schools in Delaware. In particular, Chris had the pleasure of visiting Delaware Teacher of the Year Amber Augustus’ middle school class at John Bassett Moore (JBM) Intermediate School in Smyrna. Amber is a fifth grade math, science, and social studies teacher who is in her seventh year at JBM. During the visit, Chris toured the school and met with students, teacher, and administrators to discuss best practices.  

    Chris has been an outspoken advocate for education reform. In March, he introduced legislation to help increase the number of low-income students able to access and complete a college education. The American Dream Accounts Act of 2012 encourages partnerships among schools, colleges, non-profits and businesses to develop secure, Web-based student accounts that contain information about academic preparedness, financial literacy and high-impact mentoring and would be tied to a college savings account.

    Click here to learn more about National Teacher Day

    Click here to learn more about Chris’ work to improve education in Delaware.

    Tags:
    American Dream Accounts
    Education
    Schools
    Teachers
  • ICYMI: Sen. Coons’ op-ed on his bill to help expand college access for at-risk students

    The News Journal: Senator Chris Coons penned an op-ed on Wednesday on a bill he introduced last week to help increase the number of low-income students able to access and complete a college education. The American Dream Accounts Act of 2012, which is cosponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), would authorize the Department of Education to award three-year competitive grants to support innovative and comprehensive partnerships that support low-income students in preparation for a college education.

    In the new global economy, Americans who do not earn some higher education -- whether community college or a four-year degree -- will, on average, earn a million dollars less in their lifetimes. American employers have, today, thousands of jobs available for those with the right training, but that training is out of reach for too many.

    That's why last week I introduced the American Dream Accounts Act of 2012. This legislation encourages partnerships among schools, colleges, nonprofits and businesses to develop secure, Web-based student accounts that contain information about academic preparedness, financial literacy and high-impact mentoring and are tied to a college savings account. Instead of approaching these threads independently, this bill connects students, parents and teachers across these silos. It is a small but significant step toward helping more students of all income levels access, afford and complete a college education.

    Click here to read the full op-ed on The News Journal's website. 

    Click here to read or watch Sen. Coons’ floor speech introducing the American Dream Accounts Act.

    Click here learn more about Chris’ work to improve education. 

    Tags:
    American Dream Accounts
    Economy
    Education
    ICYMI
    Jobs
  • Senator Coons introduces bill to help expand college access for at-risk students

    Senator Chris Coons introduced legislation today to help increase the number of low-income students able to access and complete a college education.

    The American Dream Accounts Act of 2012 encourages partnerships among schools, colleges, non-profits and businesses to develop secure, Web-based student accounts that contain information about academic preparedness, financial literacy and high-impact mentoring and would be tied to a college savings account.

    Instead of approaching these threads independently, this bill connects students, parents and teachers across silos, and takes a small but significant step toward helping more at-risk students of all income levels access, afford and complete a college education. A detailed background document is available here.

    “One of the lessons we’ve learned from the recent recession is that unemployment has remained very low among those with a college degree,” Senator Coons said. “Now more than ever, amid intensifying global competition and rapidly changing technology, it’s critical that young people not only finish high school, but pursue some kind of education after high school. American Dream Accounts are a way to strengthen the ability of teachers, parents, mentors, and students to work together to make sure that young people, throughout their entire education experience, prepare for, save for, train for, and then fulfill a vision for their own future — a dream for their life after high school.”

    Senator Coons’ legislation is cosponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) will introduce the American Dream Accounts Act in the House of Representatives on Monday.

    Sixty-seven percent of Delaware high school students graduate, but the rate drops dramatically in minority communities, with only 57 percent of Hispanic students and 59 percent of African American students earning a high school diploma. American Dream Accounts can help close that gap by giving students motivation and support early on, including the knowledge that scholarships, Pell and SEED grants will be there to support them after high school.

    “This concept was inspired by my own experience working with the ‘I Have a Dream Foundation,’ both running a local chapter in Wilmington and, later, working with the national organization,” Senator Coons said. “That organization made a profound impact on low-income children who had family experiences where there was no expectation of college.”

    Last month, Senator Coons convened two roundtable meetings of key experts and education leaders in Delaware and Washington in order to get feedback on the American Dream Accounts concept and explore ideas for strengthening the legislation.  He is eager for additional feedback from Delaware parents, students, teachers and other stakeholders. Please click here to share your thoughts directly with Senator Coons.

    Tags:
    American Dream Accounts
    Education
    Teachers
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