Things That Matter

Julián Castro Did Not Hold Back When Democrats Debated Immigration During The First Debate

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Since Julián Castro first announced his presidential bid in January, he’s been looking for a breakout moment in a crowded field of Democrats. Looks like he might have gotten it during the first Democratic Debate of the 2020 election season. The former Housing and Urban Development secretary and mayor of San Antonio, seized the stage when discussing immigration and his plan to overhaul it. It was a performance that might have just separated Castro from a crowded field of contenders.

There was a 2,400-percent surge in Google searches for Castro during and after the first 2020 Democratic debate show.

Credit:@juliancastro/Twitter

Up until this point, Castro has largely been known to most folks solely for being the only Latino candidate on the Democratic side. But things have quickly picked up for him and people are noticing. He’s released multiple policies since he announced his bid, shared his personal story and has a resume fit for a serious contender. But what he’s lacked is attention.

He finally got that on Wednesday night. As he shared the stage with 10 other Democratic hopefuls like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Castro finally had his moment.

“There was more excitement when he showed command in his voice and passion and compassion, which I think you need to have as president, so he really helped himself out.” Lawrence Romo, who organized a Democratic debate watch party in Castro’s hometown, told NBC News.

The highlight of the debate was Castro squaring off against fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke.

One of Castro’s strengths has been his immigration plan which he rolled out in April. On Wednesday, he took the chance to showcase it to a national audience. But it was one particular part of it that he sees as most important, his proposal to repeal a section of U.S. law that makes it a federal crime for migrants to cross the border unlawfully.

During the debate, Castro said it’s time to “go back to the way we used to treat this when somebody comes across the border, not to criminalize desperation, to treat that as a civil violation.”

It was that policy, Section 1325 of Title 8 of the US Code, that had Castro and O’Rourke debating with one another. To this point, O’Rourke hasn’t considered repealing the policy because he feels that it might make it harder to prosecute drug smugglers and human traffickers.

Castro interrupted O’Rourke’s discussion about the deaths of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter, Valeria, migrants who died crossing the Rio Grande river.

Credit:roqplanas/Twitter

“I just think it’s a mistake, Beto. I think it’s a mistake,” Castro said. “I think that if you truly want to change the system, that we’ve got to repeal that section.”

O’Rourke responded saying that during his time in Congress he helped bring legislation that would guarantee the U.S. wouldn’t criminalize asylum seekers and refugees. Castro countered by saying that wasn’t good enough.

“I think that you should do your homework on this issue,” Castro said. “If you did your homework on this issue, you would know that we should repeal this section.”

The exchange between both candidates went viral and showed how serious of a contender Castro should be considered moving forward. While Castro has been polling in single digits so far, when it comes to Latinos, he’s registered among the top or at the top.

Being the only Latino in the Democratic field, Castro will now have to build off the momentum from his performance on the debate stage.

Credit:@selectedwisdom/Twitter

Castro has been clamoring for recognition and now he’s finally getting his moment in the spotlight. Many political pundits called him one of the biggest winners of the night, along with Warren and Booker.

Beyond immigration, Castro scored well when it came to healthcare issues like whether his health plan would cover abortion access. Castro said that his policy would cover it and that coverage wouldn’t just apply to women but also include “someone in the trans community.”

Many who never even heard of Castro before the evening took to Twitter to show their support for him. For some, just having a candidate they could relate to was enough to get their support.

“Tonight, I saw Julian Castro on that debate stage. He (like me) is the child of a single mother, coming from a Mexican immigrant family and was clearly the break-out. I got emotional. We NEED to get him to the NEXT debate,” comedian Cristela Alonzo wrote.

On a night where candidates like O’Rourke and Booker spoke Spanish as a way to connect with bilingual audiences, Castro didn’t need that. He instead saved his Spanish for his closing statement.

“On Jan. 20, 2021, we’ll say adios to Donald Trump.”

READ: Julián Castro Is Promising To Confront The Growing Housing Crisis In The US With An Ambitious Housing Plan

Julián Castro: The One Presidential Candidate Taking A Strong Stand For Migrants At The Border

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Julián Castro: The One Presidential Candidate Taking A Strong Stand For Migrants At The Border

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, 44, has emerged as one of the most vocal leaders when it comes to border decriminalization. Similar to other Democratic presidential hopefuls, Castro has advocated for unauthorized entry into the U.S. to be decriminalized. Under the current law, it’s a misdemeanor the first time an individual illegally crosses the border into the U.S., a crime that carries up to six months in prison. Castro and fellow Democratic candidates are calling for that misdemeanor to be a civil offense instead of a criminal offense. But Castro wants to take it one step further and would like to see criminal reentries to be decriminalized as well.

The former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary during the Obama administration says that Congress should repeal the law that makes it a felony to reenter the U.S. after being deported. 

Credit: @thejasonhopkins / Twitter

Castro has long made the argument that Congress should separate immigration enforcement from the criminal justice system. One of the biggest reasons behind this stance is the way the Trump administration has used this to systematically separate migrant families. 

“I’d like to see those being treated as a civil matter,” Castro told the HuffPost. “I don’t believe in criminalizing desperation.”

It’s currently a misdemeanor for a person to illegally cross the border their first time but it becomes a felony if caught crossing two or more times. If found guilty of illegal reentry or entering illegally after being deported, a person can be punished by up to two years in prison. Sentences of up to 20 years can be handed down to those with prior crimes.

Castro feels that the current immigration laws give too much power to the White House over migrants.

Credit: @kasiedc / Twitter

Castro saw firsthand last year the power that the Trump administration has when it comes to enforcing immigration laws. He says the separation of families at the border is an abuse of power by the White House and there has been a building hostility toward migrant communities since President Trump took office.  

“The terrible way that this administration has treated people over the last two years has prompted many of us to thoroughly think through the best way to respond to a broken immigration system and to make sure that children and families are not treated the same way in the future,” Castro told HuffPost. He says by revoking both laws criminalizing border-crossing violations would “close off every opportunity that any future administration may have to exercise such cruelty.”

Beyond just decriminalization, Castro wants to create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who “live, work, and raise families” in the U.S., according to his campaign’s immigration platform. Another controversial move for Castro is wanting to change Trump’s cutback in refugee admissions, stop the 287(g) agreements between ICE and local law enforcement that produces more illegal immigrant arrests, and end ICE altogether. 

Many aren’t too happy about Castro’s stance as some see it as advocating for open borders. 

Credit: @joncoopertweets / Twitter

While most of the Democratic presidential candidates have called for the decriminalization of unauthorized crossings, the idea has been lambasted by some from both the left and right. Critics reason that Castro’s proposed policy change would only attract more illegal immigration, worsening the crisis at the U.S. border.

“It annoys me to no end when these politicians start throwing out these facile solutions,” Sarah Saldaña, the former director of ICE in the Obama administration, told the  Dallas Morning News. “You have it on the books and either you exercise your prosecutorial discretion or not, but at least it’s a tool in your toolbox.”

But Castro doesn’t agree that his policies will lead to open borders or lack of law enforcement when it comes to illegal immigration. He says we already have enough enforcement at our borders with advanced technology at our disposal.

“Nobody’s talking about open borders,” Castro said last Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. “We have 654 miles of fencing, we have thousands of personnel at the border, we have planes, we have helicopters, we have guns, we have boats, we have security cameras. …That’s just a right-wing talking point.”

READ: Julián Castro Did Not Hold Back When Democrats Debated Immigration During The First Debate

Don. Jr. Said Kamala Harris Wasn’t Black Enough And Democratic Presidential Candidates Are Not Having It

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Don. Jr. Said Kamala Harris Wasn’t Black Enough And Democratic Presidential Candidates Are Not Having It

The Internet has been interrogating Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-Calif.) blackness since she announced her bid for presidency. The Oakland-born daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants has been told she’s not Black enough because of her South Asian ancestry. Now, expert on all things blackness Donald Trump Jr. is questioning her race, suggesting she’s not “Black American” because her family hails from outside of the US.

In a now-deleted tweet, Don. Jr. wrote “Is this true? Wow,” to a tweet claiming that Harris isn’t really Black.

Twitter

“Kamala Harris is *not* an American Black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican. I’m so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history,” wrote Twitter user Ali Alexander, who appears to be a right-wing operative and conspiracy theorist named Ali Akbar, or Ali Abdul Razaq Akbar.  

With Don. Jr.’s retweet, the original racist message went viral, with numerous people coming for the candidate and her blackness on the Internet. According to the Huffington Post, even bots helped magnify the tweet.

But Harris has also witnessed a lot of defense from people who, despite their politics or support of the contender, are calling out the ignorance and anti-blackness in the debate around her race. Many of her sympathizers are also her challengers in the Democratic Primary.

On Instagram, fellow presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was the first to come to Harris’ defense, even criticizing tech companies for not doing more to prevent social media attacks.

“The attacks against @KamalaHarris are racist and ugly,” Warren tweeted.” We all have an obligation to speak out and say so. And it’s within the power and obligation of tech companies to stop these vile lies dead in their tracks.

Former Vice President Joe Biden compared the assault to those made against his BFF Barack Obama. 

“The same forces of hatred rooted in ‘birtherism’ that questioned @BarackObama’s American citizenship, and even his racial identity, are now being used against Senator @KamalaHarris. It’s disgusting and we have to call it out when we see it. Racism has no place in America,” he tweeted.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro kept it 100 by calling the onslaught a racist attempt to delegitimize a powerful woman of color. 

“These disgusting and racist attacks are part of a right-wing effort to delegitimize an accomplished and powerful black woman. Senator Harris has lived an American dream story, and we shouldn’t give voice to those attempting to undermine it,” the Mexican-American politco tweeted.

Still, no candidate’s response has garnered as much attention and praise than that of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who used an expletive to fire back at everyone disputing Harris’ blackness.

“.@KamalaHarris doesn’t have shit to prove,” the presidential candidate said in the now-viral tweet.

Cory Booker also came to her defense as well.

He’s right.

As many of us in the Latinx community know — though we, too, have our own undeniable anti-blackness that must be confronted and challenged regularly — Black isn’t synonymous to African American. Black folk are present all over the world, including the Caribbean, where Harris’ father is from, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the US and more. Harris, a Black woman born and raised in the US, is a Black American woman who is just as much a member of the African diaspora as she is the Indian and Caribbean diasporas. All of these identities can co-exist, and they do, not just for her but for numerous Black folk living in the country.

To repeat, Harris and others whose blackness is denied because it doesn’t fit neatly into the US’ simplistic and unworldly racial dichotomy doesn’t have to prove — here’s another curse word — fuckin’ shit.

Read: Presidential Candidates At The Second Democratic Debate Stand Up For Undocumented Health Rights

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