- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2019

While the political jockeying gets more attention, candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential race are advancing serious policy proposals. The Washington Times takes a weekly look at some of them that may have flown under the radar.

Sen. Bernard Sanders on Thursday announced a proposal to overhaul U.S. immigration law that would put a moratorium on deportations and “break up” Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Patrol.

The Vermont senator’s campaign said President Trump has turned the agencies into “a renegade detention and deportation force.”

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Under his plan, the moratorium on deportations would last until a “thorough audit” of practices and policies is complete. The Justice Department would assume responsibility for deportation and enforcement issues, the Treasury Department would take over customs authority, and the State Department would handle naturalization and citizenship proceedings.

ICE and CBP are currently housed within the Department of Homeland Security. Defunding or cutting money for immigration enforcement efforts has been a major priority for the left.

Mr. Sanders also would expand labor rights for immigrants and provide an opportunity for “deferred action” to immigrants without documentation who report labor violations.

Mr. Sanders would decriminalize illegal border crossings to put them on par with other violations of immigration law, such as overstaying a visa, an issue that has divided the 2020 Democratic presidential field.

Mr. Sanders also would halt construction of Mr. Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, direct the Justice Department to drop any litigation or funding restrictions tied to “sanctuary cities,” and roll back new restrictions on asylum from the Trump administration.

Harris on school hours

Sen. Kamala D. Harris on Wednesday introduced a bill that would give school districts incentives to provide educational and extracurricular activities to students for at least 10 hours per day.

The California Democrat said the legislation would better align school days with parents’ work hours and help cut down on costs of child care.

“My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” Ms. Harris said. “So, I know firsthand that, for many working parents, juggling between school schedules and work schedules is a common cause of stress and financial hardship. But this does not have to be the case.”

Her office said parents are often left in a “bind” when schools close around 3 p.m., at least two hours before the end of a traditional work days.

The bill would award five-year grants of up to $5 million to school districts to “transform” elementary schools that serve low-income families to develop academic, athletic or other activities from at least 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Schools would not be allowed to increase the amount of time teachers and staff have to work “unless they choose to work additional hours, and are compensated fairly for the additional hours,” according to her office.

The legislation also requires the Department of Education to publish a “lessons learned” report at the end of the five-year grant period.

Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, another 2020 Democratic contender, is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Warren on veterans

Ahead of Veterans Day, Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a plan designed to protect veterans and military service members, with a goal of cutting the number of veteran suicides in half in her first term.

The Massachusetts Democrat said more research needs to be conducted into the causes of suicide, with a focus on contributing factors specific to the military experience.

The plan calls for annual mental health exams for service members and more support for military families who lose someone to suicide.

The plan would ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs provides “full reproductive health care” for all veterans and medical care for transgender people, including transition-related surgery.

To try to ease the transition from military to civilian life, Ms. Warren also would direct the Defense Department to require that service members preenroll and complete processing at the VA before they leave active service.

She also set a goal of completing “interoperable electronic records” between the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments by the end of her first term.

Ms. Warren touted plans to allow veterans to “cash out” their GI education benefits for a small business loan, and said she would direct the Department of Defense to expand resume and career coaching opportunities for those in the military who are considering a transition to civilian life.

Yang on active shooter drills

Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang on Monday said he would end active shooter drills in schools or make them optional.

“My son’s school is holding four active shooter drills this year. The only clear impact of these drills is stress, anxiety and confusion on the part of children and families,” Mr. Yang tweeted. “Let our kids learn the right things.”

The drills have become more prevalent in the wake of recent mass shootings at schools, whose often-lax security can make them relatively easy targets for would-be killers.

But Mr. Yang said on his campaign website that there’s no evidence the drills proportionally help prepare students for an actual shooter.

He said the likelihood of a public school student being killed by a gun in school is less than 1 in 614 million, but 4.1 million students participated in at least one “lockdown” during the 2017-2018 academic year.

“We are terrorizing our children unnecessarily,” he said. “The $3 billion being spent per year on school security and drills could be going towards hiring counselors, nurses and teachers.”

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