This week, Julián Castro became the first presidential hopeful to reveal his immigration plan.
In a Medium post titled “Putting people first,” Castro explained how his grandmother arrived in the United States after being separated from her dying mother. “I see her image in the children at our borders today,” he wrote. “Today, the photos and videos of immigrant children crying for their parents haunt our collective conscience. Donald Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy is responsible for children as young as infants being taken away from their parents, caged, and even ‘lost’ in the foster care system. In federal detention, several immigrant children whose parents have presented their families for the sanctuary of asylum have even died. We are heartbroken. We are outraged.”
Because immigrants have been failed by this country, Castro said, the next president of the United States must start by undoing all the harmful policies enacted during the Trump administration. Then, the legal immigration system needs to be repaired so that we can then make profound changes.
“We need a pathway to full and equal citizenship for the 11 million people living here peacefully, and contributing to our culture and our economy,” he wrote. “We must protect Dreamers and their parents, and folks under protected status who fled natural disasters, persecution, or violence. We need to revamp the visa system and end the backlog of people who are waiting to reunite with their families.
We must end the three and 10 year bars that require undocumented individuals – who otherwise qualify for legal status – to leave the country and their families behind, in order to attain citizenship.”
He also emphasized the need to make immigration a civil issue. “The truth is, immigrants seeking refuge in our country aren’t a threat to national security,” he added. “Migration shouldn’t be a criminal justice issue.”
With his immigration plan, some have said that Castro has set the bar for other Democratic candidates, who may, in turn, feel pressured to present more progressive immigration platforms. And while Castro is receiving praise for his plan, it’s important to note that this isn’t the only reason why Latinos will or won’t vote for him. Immigration is certainly important to our community, but we are a. not a monolith and b. not all equally concerned about this issue.
Still, it’s necessary to know how immigration activists – those who have and will continue to fight for the rights of immigrants – feel about Castro’s plan. Check out a few reactions below.
United We Dream Action finds Castro’s immigration plan encouraging. “Castro’s newly published platform leads the Democratic primary debate in the right direction as he calls for a shift from mass deportation and criminalization to a framework that treats immigrants living in the United States as well as people living in Central America as the human beings that we are,” said Cristina Jimenez, the executive director of the organization. “Castro’s call to end the for-profit detention industry and to separate the various functions of immigration enforcement agencies are the kind of creative solutions we need to see from candidates this election cycle.
“Simply relying on old talking points for ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ is not sufficient for a community under siege or for the American people who have wanted a pathway to citizenship for immigrants and have opposed mass deportation for decades.”
Jolt explains that immigration has been an important issue in presidential elections for decades. “Candidate Castro’s ‘people first immigration policy’ is a clear and feasible proposal that would transform the lives of millions of hardworking immigrants, who have been overlooked and living in limbo,” said Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez, founder and executive director of JOLT.
“I am glad to see Candidate Castro leading this dialogue and look forward to the immigration plans other candidates have to offer. One thing is certain, it’s time to fix our immigration system and provide a pathway to citizenship. This is one of the most important issues our country faces and Texas is on the frontlines of this issue. One in three Texans are immigrants, our growth and state have been fueled by immigrants. Solutions like Castro’s are exactly what we need in this moment.”