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Julian Castro Is Running For President On A Platform Of Giving A Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million People

Julián Castro became the first Democratic presidential hopeful to reveal his immigration plan. The former mayor of San Antonio and secretary of Housing and Urban Development released his immigration platform on April 2 in what he calls his “People First” immigration policy. While many in the Democratic field have called for immigrant protection from deportation under DACA, Temporary Protected Status, and Deferred Enforced Departure programs, Castro’s proposal goes deeper. Here’s what you should know about his immigration policy.

Castro wants to make it a civil violation, instead of a misdemeanor crime, to cross the border without legal permission.

Castro proposes to repeal the provision of U.S. law that makes “illegal entry” into the US a federal crime, which has been a law since 1929 but has only been routinely enforced in the 21st century. The law got new life under the George W. Bush administration, leading to a shift to criminalization of immigration policy.

Basically, under Castro’s policy, an immigrant crossing into the U.S. without papers — whether they were was seeking asylum or coming in for some other reason — would not be committing a federal crime. If the individual did’t quality for asylum , they would be then be deported.

“The truth is, immigrants seeking refuge in our country aren’t a threat to national security,” Castro wrote in a Medium post outlining his plan. “Migration shouldn’t be a criminal justice issue. It’s time to end this draconian policy and return to treating immigration as a civil — not a criminal — issue.”

There is also a plan to overhaul the immigration system.

Castro’s new policy isn’t just focused on the U.S. border. He is calling for the government to get out of the business of routine immigration enforcement. He plans to take on the recent movement to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency in charge of enforcing immigration laws. Castro wants to see the agency change its tactics from routine arrests and detention to rather enforcing more serious crimes and threats to national security.

He also wants to see immigration courts be removed from the U.S. attorney general’s authority. Currently, the courts are under the Department of Justice which means the attorney general has much power to regulate certain policies and set precedent. This was obvious when former attorney general Jeff Sessions was leading family separation policy efforts last summer.

Castro wants to create a pathway to full and equal citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people living in the country.

Castro has a broad vision of what he believes will benefit the U.S. long term when it comes to immigration. The number of immigrants waiting to gain full U.S. citizenship keeps growing and, in the last year, these figures have only climbed.

To help with this, Castro plans on getting rid of the three- and 10-year bars placed on the spouse of a U.S. citizen getting a green card for years if they lived in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant.

“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,” Castro 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.”

He also plans to help with the increasing number of Central American Refugees coming to the U.S.

Castro is “calling for a 21st century Marshall Plan for Central America,” that will support countries that are major sources migration in the U.S. The proposed plan calls for greater diplomacy in these regions and economic development that will enable people in those countries to “build a life in their communities rather than make a dangerous journey leaving their homes.”

This includes expanding ports of entry to make it easier for people to seek asylum without crossing illegally, supporting shelters and humane care for immigrant families, and expanding access to counsel for asylum seekers. 

While there are still some questions and concerns for Castro’s immigration policy, it’s a start in the right direction. Castro has been the only candidate to lay out a comprehensive immigration policy that is challenging our current system in place. The immigration plan has been met with a positive reaction so far and that will be key if Castro is going to be a major player in the 2020 race.

Read: Trump Wants To Release Detained Immigrants Into Sanctuary Cities And Democrats Are Demanding Answers On The Controversial Plan

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The Trump Team Is Ramming Through Last Minute Immigration Rules That Will Have Serious Impacts On Migrants

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The Trump Team Is Ramming Through Last Minute Immigration Rules That Will Have Serious Impacts On Migrants

Johan ORDONEZ / Getty Images

In addition to telling his own team to have zero contact with the President-Elect’s transition team, Trump is now attempting to rush through more dangerous immigration policies.

Although most officials agree that there are few major changes the administration can achieve in two months, they admit that Trump could still wreak havoc on an incoming administration’s plans. From solidifying ‘safe third country’ agreements to finally enacting their rule against international students, there is still a lot of damage the Trump administration can impart on the migrant community.

Trump is rushing to put into place last minute changes to immigration policy.

With President-Elect Biden’s inauguration less than two months away, there is added urgency with the Trump Administration to ram through any last-minute rules that would further limit immigration.

The last minute push comes as little surprise as it’s very much inline with a years-long effort to expand policies that further limit immigrant’s rights – and also a concession that a new administration is incoming.

Like so many other immigration reforms, it’s believed that Trump’s longtime advisor Stephen Miller is behind the push. As lead immigration adviser and the architect of his hard-line immigration agenda, Miller is looking for any opportunity to tighten immigration rules and curtail the flow of migration to the United States.

Immigrant advocates have slammed Miller and the administration for their actions, arguing that the changes have betrayed the country’s posture of welcoming immigrants. 

Despite Trump’s denial, some see the last minute rush as a tacit admission that Biden won the election.

Although these last minute pushes are the same thing that happens in the twilight of every outgoing administration, this one is peculiar because Trump himself has conceded to admit he’s leaving office come January.

However, every administration wants to finish what they started and give it as much staying power as they possibly can.

It’s common for administrations to try to get pending items across the finish line before a transfer of power, but such moves have the potential of setting up more hurdles for Biden, who’s pledged to roll back Trump immigration policies, many of which have occurred through regulations that can be more arduous to reverse.

Though even immigration hawks admit that there is little that can really be accomplished within the next two months.

Some on the right who have failed Trump’s dangerous immigration policies say that there is always going to be a higher level of intensity when you’re running on borrowed time. They also admit that they have, in fact, been working with the Trump Administration on last minute changes. Chris Chmielenski, deputy director at NumbersUSA, told CNN that, “There has been constant communication between us and administration officials on what we still want done.”

“People are looking for stuff to do. People are asking, is there anything you think we could make progress on, anything you think needs to be fixed,” he said. “It’s nothing that’s going to make a difference within two months. People want to know if there are policy changes that can be made, but I think the general view is there is not a lot that can be done.”

The one area where Trump could make changes it by creating more so-called “safe third country” agreements.

Credit: Johan ORDONEZ / Getty Images

Although it’s unlikely the administration will be able to enact any major legislation, the president is attempting to further enact existing policies. One area where Trump’s team is looking to expand policy is in so-called ‘safe third country’ agreements.

The agreements — initiated last year — marked a significant shift in US asylum policy as migrants who may have legitimate claims for asylum are sent to other countries to make their cases. The U.S. already has entered into agreements with Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, but only the agreement with Guatemala was actually up and running.

And despite the region being devastated by Hurricanes Eta and Iota, they still want to see the agreements enacted.

There has also been a major push to finalize a rule that takes aim at international students, potentially limiting the length of time students and others can remain in the United States. In September, DHS proposed changes to visas for students, exchange visitors and foreign media. Since then, a “substantial amount of resources” have been put into finalizing the regulation, a DHS official told CNN, pointing out that there has been “tremendous opposition” to the rule.

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Trump Finally Gave The Green Light To Start The Transition But Many Immigration Policies Are Already Affected

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Trump Finally Gave The Green Light To Start The Transition But Many Immigration Policies Are Already Affected

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Ever since election night, President Trump has been sowing discord and disinformation while showing himself to be the big sore loser he always has been. Basically, he’s been showing his true colors.

But his actions have real consequences. As he instructs many in his administration to avoid any contact with President-Elect Biden’s transition team, he is doing damage to the peaceful transfer of power. He’s also risking the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans as the country continues to struggle to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, his actions are impacting the future of immigration reform.

Trump has instructed his immigration department to avoid working with the Biden transition team.

As Trump’s General Services Administrator refuses to provide the Biden transition team with much-needed funds to begin preparing for office come January 20th, his immigration department is also keeping the transition team in the dark.

According to Buzzfeed News, an official that oversees US immigration and naturalization services told employees not to communicate with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team until a Trump appointee “deems the results ‘clear’” and recognizes the winner.

”It’s disturbing and disheartening that the agency is not permitting staff to aid the Biden transition team to ensure a smooth transfer,” said one USCIS employee who spoke on condition of anonymity. “These delays could hamper the new administration’s ability to hit the ground running on important issues facing the agency and our country.”

But the transition delay has also caused concern among officials in other agencies, especially those responsible for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

As president, Biden plans to undo many of Trump’s immigration reforms.

Credit: Natalie Sounders / Getty Images

President-Elect Biden has made it very clear that we will govern very differently that his predecessor. One of the areas where he’s looking to truly separate himself from Trump is on immigration.

Already, the transition team has promised to unroll Donald Trump’s legacy on immigration, but it faces an uphill battle to make good on that promise.

When it comes to DACA, the administration plans to reinstate protections DREAMers, but also to expand protections for their health care and education. A threat to the DACA program is making its way through the courts, so the Biden camp is under pressure to act quickly to make good on its promise.

For Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, Biden plans to bring that to an end as well. It is estimated that 20,000 migrants are waiting in northern Mexico in cities like Matamoros while seeking asylum in the U.S. But the exact number is not known for certain, in large part because the Department of Homeland Security has not yet shared such data with the Biden transition team.

Another big change would come in the form of revamping the country’s seasonal worker program. Biden wants to make it easier for both employers and workers to hire and find jobs while providing much-needed legal protections and fair pay to workers.

Biden has also committed to increase the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. annually to 125,000, a historic high and a dramatic increase from the historic low of 15,000 set by the Trump administration.

Biden can use executive action on many fronts but others will require congressional action.

Credit: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Although Biden can accomplish many of these immigration reforms through executive action, he’ll need to work with Congress to achieve many others.

His platform outlines larger goals to work on with Congress, such as increasing the number of employment-based visas, providing a path to legalization for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country and creating a new, decentralized immigration stream for foreign workers that is based on local employers’ needs as well as a new visa option for entrepreneurs. 

These plans will be contingent on which party controls the Senate—to be decided in January by two runoff elections in Georgia—and the course of the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to spike across the country, leaving millions of workers unemployed.

Dreamers are celebrating President-Elect Biden’s plans but remain cautious.

Credit: Steve Marcus / Getty Images

While they aren’t eligible to vote, DACA recipients found ways to harness their political power ahead of the election. And it very much worked.

Over the course of the campaign, many politicans – including President-Elect Joe Biden – made serious promises to the nation’s immigrant population. And Dreamers show up, so if promises were made but progress isn’t, then DREAMers aren’t afraid to go show up in someone’s office and say, ‘Hey, I thought you were on our side.’

“Those are promises that would literally change my life,” said Mariana Castro, 26, a DACA recipient from Peru living in a mixed-status family in Florida.

So although much of the stress and weight has been lifted off immigrant communities shoulders with the results of this election, so much work remains to be done.

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