Julián Castro, a champion of immigrant rights

Courtesy of Jill Greenberg

Ever since ICE began its raid of towns across the U.S. with the goal of deporting 2,000 illegal immigrants, the nation has been in a state of panic. This upset has caused a more forceful call from Democratic politicians for a change to border policy. 

At the forefront of this pack of advocates is Julián Castro. The Democratic Presidential Candidate from Texas has been prioritizing the immigration problem since the beginning of his campaign. He was the first candidate to push out a comprehensive immigration reform plan which is divided into three steps. 

The first step to his plan is “Reforming our Immigration System.” This includes providing a pathway to citizenship to immigrants, passing the Reuniting Families Act and strengthening labor protections for guest workers in the U.S. 

The second step is “Creating a Humane Border Policy.” Castro plans to repeal section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act which applies a criminal violation instead of a civil violation to people who are caught illegally immigrating. This allows U.S. border officials to incarcerate immigrant parents and take away their children. He stressed this goal during the first presidential debate, calling Beto O’Rouke out for not supporting the repeal, and urging him to change his stance. Castro also wants to create more humane alternatives to detention centers that are cost-effective. Along with fixing the place where migrants are kept, Castro wants to conduct a “thorough investigation” into the ICE and their enforcement practices.

The third, and final, step to his plan is to “Establish a 21st Century ‘Marshall Plan’ for Central America.” The Marshall Plan was an American initiative to lend Western Europe $12 billion after World War 2 to help them rebuild their economy. The plan also benefited America in that it protected trade and foreign relations. This “21st Century” Marshall Plan would be similar in that it would provide financial and reformative relief, but this time to countries in Central America. He plans to do this by increasing funding for anti-violence programs, supporting public health and creating more jobs. His plan is to make these countries more stable, so that less people will feel the need to flee to America where their futures are uncertain. 

Castro is not the only candidate who has made immigration a key issue in their campaign. Democratic candidates Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rouke and even Republican candidate Bill Weld have all called for reform to the current immigration system under President Trump.