Civil Rights

Civil Rights

Senator Casey believes the advancement of civil rights must be at the core of our nation’s mission. Public officials must serve as a guardian of civil rights so that people throughout our nation have equal protection of our laws. Senator Casey believes that each generation of Americans has a basic obligation to protect and advance the cause of civil rights in order to perfect our nation’s union.

Voting Rights

The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, and the fight for equal voting rights has long been central to civil rights advocates' struggle for equal participation in our society. We should be making it easier, not harder, for Pennsylvanians to participate in our democracy, especially those groups whose voices have historically been marginalized.

  • Senator Casey cosponsored the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would reverse the Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder by reinstating and updating a formula that requires local jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to obtain federal preclearance before making changes to their voting laws.

  • Senator Casey cosponsored the Democracy Restoration Act, which restores federal voting rights to formerly incarcerated individuals who have completed their sentences.

  • Senator Casey has signed letters to the Appropriations Committee requesting robust funding for the Election Assistance Commission, the independent, bipartisan commission that administers state grants for election system improvement and works with state and local election officials to improve federal election administration.

  • Senator Casey successfully requested a GAO review of voting accessibility for individuals with disabilities, and as Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging he released a report on barriers to voting for older Americans, including recommendations on how to improve access to the ballot.

  • Senator Casey wrote a letter to the Department of Justice in advance of the 2016 election asking that the Department provide resources and support to local jurisdictions to ensure proper enforcement of election-monitoring rules and prevent voter intimidation.

Community and Law Enforcement Relations

Public officials must be part of the process of helping build trust between police and the communities they serve, especially minority communities. The road to fairness, accountability and justice is long, but we must take a series of steps with a sense of urgency.

  • Senator Casey supports efforts to increase the use of body-worn cameras to improve transparency and accountability. He has requested funding for the Body-Worn Camera Initiative, which received $22.5 million in federal funding in Fiscal Year 2019.

  • Senator Casey signed a letter to Attorney General Sessions in April 2017 expressing concern about Attorney General Sessions's order to review the Department of Justice Consent Decrees with police departments and urging the faithful execution of those agreements.

  • Senator Casey cosponsored and voted for the First Step Act, bipartisan legislation signed into law in December 2018 that included a number of improvements to the criminal justice system. This bill eased mandatory minimums and gave judges more discretion in the sentencing of repeat offenders. It also made retroactive the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity, to allow certain nonviolent offenders to petition courts for an individualized review of their sentence. The bill also improved recidivism reduction programming, including education and job training, and incentivized offenders to participate by allowing them to earn time credits that can be spent in prerelease custody. While there is much more to be done, the First Step Act is a good start as we work to further improve our criminal justice system.

Immigration

The United States is a nation of immigrants. However, few would disagree that our immigration system as it exists today is broken. We need comprehensive immigration reform to address is the serious challenges that our Nation faces and answer critical questions about how best to secure our borders, address root causes of migration, and create pathways to citizenship for the law-abiding undocumented individuals who are already here.

  • In 2013, Senator Casey supported the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, bipartisan comprehensive reform legislation to provide a tough but fair earned pathway to citizenship and to secure our borders by deploying thousands of full-time Border Patrol Agents, increasing mobile surveillance, and utilizing advance border security technology. 68 members of the Senate voted in favor of this legislation, but the House of Representatives failed to act on immigration reform. Senator Casey strongly supports the consideration of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

  • Senator Casey believes that we must act to protect our Nation’s Dreamers. He opposed the Administration’s decision to end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and supports the DREAM Act. He has signed numerous letters to the Administration opposing the end of protections for these young people.

  • Senator Casey believes that migrant families seeking asylum should be treated with compassion and respect. He has advocated on behalf of families detained at the Berks County Residential Center, and called for a full review of the center.

  • Senator Casey strongly opposes separating migrant children from their parents. Since mere rumors of a separation policy circulated, he has sent numerous letters to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services opposing the separation of children from their parents, reiterating the harm these policies will do to children and families, and working to ensure families are reunited. Senator Casey is committed to seeing this policy end and will continue his strong oversight of the Administration until every family is reunited, and children are no longer subjected to this cruelty.

  • Senator Casey is a proud original cosponsor of the Keep Families Together Act, which would prohibit DHS officials from separating children from their parents, except in extraordinary circumstances, such as trafficking indicators or other concerns of risk to the child. In addition, this legislation establishes a preference for family unity, discourages the separation of siblings, and creates a presumption that detention is not in the best interests of families and children. Senator Casey is also a cosponsor of the Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (HELP) for Separated Children Act, which aims to protect children affected by immigration enforcement actions taken against their parents.

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