Presidential Candidate Julián Castro Outlines People First Immigration Policy

Democratic presidential contender Julián Castro recently detailed his immigration plan, which he released earlier this month. Castro is one of nearly two dozen candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination and the only Latinx person to throw their hat in the ring.

The former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary released his People First Immigration Policy on April 2. The plan calls for a complete overhaul of the immigration system, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, revamp the visa system, increase refugee admissions, and get rid of Trump’s Muslim and Refugee Ban.

In an interview with The New Yorker, Castro said that he chose immigration as his first policy plan because he comes from a family of immigrants. He spoke of his grandmother, who moved to the United States at age 7 and worked as a maid, cook, and babysitter in 1922.

“She worked very hard,” Castro said of his grandmother. “It was this classic American Dream story.” Castro’s grandmother was also a single parent who raised his mother — the first person from that side of his family to graduate from high school and go to college. Castro and his twin brother became the first professionals in their family when they became lawyers.

Castro also had plenty to say about President Donald Trump. The Democrat told The New Yorker that Trump has been a racist who has used immigration to stoke fear and paranoia. He added that he released his People First immigration plan to represent a “completely different” vision of the issue.

In addition to tackling issues that have been crucial to the Trump administration — such as worker visas and refugee admissions — Castro’s People First policy aims to change how authorities punish individuals who enter the country illegally. One of Castro’s proposals seeks to repeal Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which establishes the criminal offenses related to “improper entry into the United States.” Castro contends that the provision allows the government to separate children from their families at the border and has prompted the large scale detention of immigrant families.

Castro proposed ending the use of detention in conducting immigration enforcement except for in serious cases. The Obama administration, where Castro served as HUD secretary, piloted a program that monitored immigrant families through the immigration court process. The Democrat also called for a thorough investigation and reorganization of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Castro clarified that immigration enforcement would still have a part to play in his administration. “We would still enforce; it would just be a civil violation, so somebody would still have an immigration judicial process that they would go through,” Castro told The New Yorker.

He noted that before 2004 the US government treated illegal entry into the US as a civil violation. “I believe that we can have a better system if we go back to treating it as a civil violation, with enhanced monitoring of these families so that they show up for their court dates,” Castro said.

Castro told The New Yorker that the country needs to figure out a way to sort immigration issues and said he was not afraid to propose a “bold” immigration plan. “I am counting on that the people who want to be sensible about this and compassionate are white and Black and [Latinx] and Asian American and people from different backgrounds,” he said.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.