Things That Matter

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

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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.

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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. 

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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

Julian Castro’s Mom Gave Serious Wisdom About The Racism Latinos Face Today

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Julian Castro’s Mom Gave Serious Wisdom About The Racism Latinos Face Today

When discussing today’s volatile state of our country, the racism, the violence, the injustice, people often say “it’s never been this bad.”

How do we truly know for sure that something we are experiencing today, as a minority, as Latinos, is something, unlike anything previous generations have experienced before. We certainly cannot tell from history books mainly because history books often omit the Latino experience altogether. We sometimes only have oral histories to rely on. The stories elder Latinos share with us about what life was like in the past, before social media, before cell phones, and before the media ever reported about injustices against our community. 

Those special individuals are typically our grandparents, tias, la vecina, and more importantly activists that continue to fight for the cause today. Recently presidential candidate, Julian Castro said that he stands on his important platforms today primarily because of his mother Rosie. 

As a lifelong Texan, Rosie said the racism in 2019 is more evil than anything she has ever seen.

Credit: Instagram/@TexasMonthly

In an interview with NBC News, Rosie who’s not only grown up in Texas but has also worked her adult life as an activist for Latinos said that she knows racism well because she has lived through it her entire life but what is happening today is extremely different from the past. 

“When I was in the movement, I knew the racism was out there and it was institutional. This kind of racism is different,” she said to the network. “That rhetoric has gone on for three years now, and I think we’ve all seen the rise of the hate groups and then even the rise of just ordinary people in a store that feel empowered to say something to a person who is speaking Spanish or is dark-skinned.”

Rosie said the racist words from President Donald Trump has single-handly inspired white supremacists to target Latinos. 

Credit: Twitter/@thehill

She said he is the catalyst to our current crisis.

Rosie said that when Trump first got elected she immediately felt like she was back in time, as if it were the ’60s all over again, but adds that this time it feels much worse. She said back then, President Nixon and California Governor Ronald Reagan had a campaign against Latinos too. However, it does not compare to the injustices against Latinos today. She points out that Trump claims to be a Christian yet can spew such vile words. “He’s just allowed that to become a blatant racist part of our reality,” Rosie said. 

As a former community organizer in the ’60s and ’70s, Rosie said Latinos had a mission to work at making the country a better place.

Credit: Instagram/@TexasMonthly

Now, Rosie said that Latinos are fighting for their lives. She also attributes a huge difference between then now on gun violence. Children today are afraid to go to school because mass shootings happen so frequently. 

Her son has always had a strong position against guns. He has spoken about it extensively during his presidential campaigning. Julian has said he will push for renewing the assault weapons ban, as well as limiting high-capacity magazines and, naturally, requiring background checks.

One thing that is inspiring Rosie — aside from her son running for president — is that so many organizations today are rising up to fight for equality and against racism.

Credit: Instagram/@denisemhdz

Rosie said the organizations she sees today does remind her of her time as an activist back in the day. While the injustices and crimes against Latinos is a stark difference, one thing that feels familiar is the energy from young Latinos rising together. 

Rosie has long been credited for influencing her sons’ work as public servants, to fight for Latinos and all people in the U.S. 

Credit: Instagram/@truth_purpose

Both Julian and Joaquin had attributed their rise in politics to their mother. It was her work as an activist and in education that made them both want to strive to make the United States a better place to live. 

In 2012, Julian gave his now-famous keynote address at the Democratic National Convention where he introduced then-President Barack Obama. In a few words, Julian not only paid tribute to the women in his life but also the American Dream that they worked so hard for. 

“My grandmother never owned a house,” Julian said back then. “She cleaned other people’s houses so she could afford to rent her own. But she saw her daughter become the first in her family to graduate from college. And my mother fought hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone.”

It is because of women like Rosie that we have a platform to stand on as well. 

READ: Julián Castro Walked Onstage To Selena, Struggles With Spanish, And Other Ways He Lives The Latino Experience On The Campaign Trail

Julián Castro Makes History: Becomes First Candidate To Release Comprehensive Animal Welfare Plan

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Julián Castro Makes History: Becomes First Candidate To Release Comprehensive Animal Welfare Plan

@PaulHShapiro / Twitter

It’s August 2019. We are just over a year away from the 2020 elections but the Democratic primary race has been well underway for a few months already. 

We’ve had two debates and have gotten to know each of the 23 Democrats running for President a bit better as they share their policy viewpoints. We’ve learned where the candidates stand on immigration, healthcare, foreign policy, racism, and Trump’s impeachment. However, until now, none of the candidates have outlines policy positions when it comes to animal welfare. 

Julian Castro isn’t just the first candidate of this primary race to release a detailed animal welfare plan, he’s the first candidate for president to ever release a plan like this one. 

In a Twitter announcement, Julián Castro announced his far-ranging animal welfare plan.

With his new set of proposals, Castro positions himself among the leading voices for advancing animal protections, something that polling suggests the public overwhelmingly supports.

His ideas include ending the euthanasia of healthy cats and dogs in shelters, making animal cruelty a federal crime and expanding U.S. protected lands. The plan won praise from animal welfare advocates who have pushed 2020 candidates to publish similar platforms and to support animal-friendly legislation.

“We applaud Secretary Castro’s proposal to protect our pets, wildlife, and animals raised for food,” Brad Pyle, the political director at the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Voters are lucky to have so many animal protection champions seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.”

Under Castro’s pawlicy, the US would move away from euthanizing perfectly healthy animals who are waiting for forever homes in shelters.

In a post on Medium, Castro said, “Last year, over 700,000 animals were euthanized in America’s shelters, a cruel and unjust fate for far too many lives. But our nation can choose a different path. This month, Delaware became the first “no-kill” state, with more than 90 percent of animals returned to their owners or provided a home.

His policy would also provide protections for farmed animals, the farming of which contribute the greatest risk towards climate change.

And in that same Medium post, Casto suggested the federal government should follow California’s lead in adopting more progressive protections for farmed animals.

Paul Shapiro, a leading animal rights advocate, has come out in favor of Castro’s plan.

Shapiro is the author of “Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World“ and a vocal advocate for animal welfare. In a tweet, he welcomed the groundbreaking announcement and thought that it could lead to even greater protections for animals in the future.

Many have pointed out that the policy plan come just days after the Trump administration gutted protections for endangered species.

Castro may see an opening as the issue may have even more resonance with Democrats after President Trump’s weakening of the Endangered Species Act, the law that brought the bald eagle, the humpback whale and the grizzly bear back from the brink of extinction. Castro, meanwhile, said he would strengthen the landmark legislation.

In announcing his plan, Castro sought to position himself as the fix to four years of Trump administration policies.

“The president does not care about animals and his cruel actions prove it. He has put corporate profits over living creatures and individual fortunes over our future,” Castro said in a statement. “This groundbreaking plan will improve the treatment of animals around the country and the world, and undo Donald Trump’s damage.”

And Castro’s policy would go directly after one of Trump Jr’s favorite so-called ‘hobbies.’ 

His plan would also end the import of big-game trophies. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, is an infamous big-game hunter.

“Protecting these majestic animals must first start with repealing the Trump administration’s NRA loopholes that allow trophy hunting and enforcing strict penalties on the domestic ivory trade,” the plan reads.

Reactions to Castro’s plan have been met with huge surprise and admiration across Twitter.

A lot of people admitted that this policy announcement was enough to cement their support for the Texas congressman. And they hoped that Castro made it through the upcoming primary process so they could vote for him in their state’s primary.

One Twitter user, @thejohnburke1, said “I loved Julian Castro already, but a man who fights for animals is who I’ll fight for.”

Another person on Twitter, @hr072, said “I love love love this… Brilliant plan by #Castro2020”

Many joked that a whole new constituency may have just been created by this groundbreaking policy announcement.

Few doubt the commitment and dedication of animal lovers. They are often truly dedicated to their cause and seldom take no for an answer. From so-called cat ladies to militant vegans and pony girls, the animal welfare/rights community is a tight knit community that may just help carry Castro into the next debates with this new policy plan.

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