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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

Border Patrol Refused To Leave This Woman Alone As She Waited In Emergency Room For Medical Care

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Border Patrol Refused To Leave This Woman Alone As She Waited In Emergency Room For Medical Care

Jeff Greenberg / Getty

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has sparked outrage after Border Patrol agents were spotted waiting outside a patient’s room in the emergency unit of a Florida hospital before taking the patient into custody.

Video and images posted to social media on Sunday appeared to show at least one Border Patrol agent waiting outside a room at the Aventura Hospital and Medical Center in Aventura, Florida, with later footage appearing to show officers escorting the patient, a woman, into the back of a Border Patrol vehicle.

The ordeal started as the family was headed home after a day at the beach.

During a traffic stop, Border Patrol agents detained an undocumented woman who was on her way home from a family outing at Haulover Beach. It wasn’t long after the Border Patrol car pulled her over that she entered into a panic attack, vomiting and then eventually fainting. The officers took her to a Miami-area hospital, where she was treated by emergency-room doctors.

On the side of a road in Miami Beach, the federal agents had repeatedly told her, “We just need you to come with us.” Her kids, both teenagers, were crying, begging the agents not to take away their mother. But that appears like it’s exactly what happened. A family’s day at the beach ending with life long trauma for two teenagers who didn’t want to lose their mother and a woman fearful for her future.

Once she arrived to the emergency room, Border Patrol agents refused to leave the woman alone.

In fact, they wouldn’t leave her at all for nearly five hours. Officers waited either inside her actual room, affording her zero privacy, or they were waiting for her outside an open door. Agents refused to budge even as doctors and nurses came to ask her questions and give her medication.

When the woman was discharged shortly thereafter, a uniformed Border Patrol agent escorted her to a patrol vehicle and drove away. Immigrant-rights activists, who captured the incident on video, say the woman’s detention showed callous disregard for a person undergoing medical treatment.

Migrant rights activists were quick to condemn the agency’s actions and some even caught the drama on film.

Thomas Kennedy, who filmed a series of videos documenting the incident, told The Washington Post that the incident raises questions about the line – or lack thereof – between immigration enforcement and emergency medical care. He declined to name the woman out of concern for her safety.

“A hospital should be a place where a patient is protected from interrogation,” Kennedy, the political director at the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said in an interview. “You shouldn’t have a Border Patrol agent right there with you while you’re getting treatment.”

“It’s truly embarrassing as a country that this is a place where we are — that this is how business is being conducted, when we have a woman with children in the midst of a medical emergency being detained,” says Alexandra Audate, a lawyer and rapid-response volunteer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), who was present at the hospital.

Sadly, this is hardly the first time Border Patrol has harassed people in hospitals.

High-profile incidents in recent years have drawn attention to Border Patrol’s role in hospitals along the U.S.-Mexico border, where agents have allegedly handcuffed asylum seekers to their beds or rushed migrants to the emergency room after they’ve gotten sick in detention.

Less has been documented about Border Patrol’s place in hospitals elsewhere in the 100-mile “border zone,” where the agency can operate with a heightened kind of authority. That area, which encompasses a majority of the U.S. population, includes any point in the country that’s within 100 miles of a coastline, Canada or Mexico – including the entirety of states like Florida, Michigan and Massachusetts.

In the border zone, agents can stop, question, and detain anyone they suspect of having committed immigration violations – as they seem to have done on Sunday.

Ecuador Was In Chaos After Massive Protests But The Government Has Reached A Deal With These Indigenous Activists

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Ecuador Was In Chaos After Massive Protests But The Government Has Reached A Deal With These Indigenous Activists

@democracynow / Twitter

Ecuador’s government announced a round of talks with leaders of the Indigenous groups who have been mobilizing against the government in a move to end the violence and chaos that has racked the nation for more than a week.

President Moreno announced he would withdraw the country from a deal reached with the IMF that many said would cause the greatest harms to the country’s most vulnerable populations.

In a major address, President Lenin Moreno announced he had struck a deal with indigenous leaders to cancel a disputed austerity package.

The news comes after nearly two weeks of protests that have paralyzed the economy and left seven dead.

Under the new agreement, President Moreno will withdraw the International Monetary Fund-backed package, known as Decree 883, that included a sharp rise in fuel costs. Indigenous leaders, in turn, will call on their followers to end protests and street blockades.

“Comrades, this deal is a compromise on both sides,” Moreno said. “The indigenous mobilization will end and Decree 883 will be lifted.”

The two sides will work together to develop a package of measures to cut government spending, increase revenue and reduce Ecuador’s growing budget deficits and public debt.

Ecuador’s Indigenous groups celebrated the announcement as a major victory.

“I’m so happy I don’t know what to say. I don’t have words, I’m so emotional. At least God touched the president’s heart,” said protester Rosa Matango in an interview with The Guardian. “I am happy as a mother, happy for our future. We indigenous people fought and lost so many brothers, but we’ll keep going forward.”

Caravans of cars roamed the streets early on Monday honking in celebration, passengers shouting, banging pots and waving Ecuadorian flags.

“The moment of peace, of agreement, has come for Ecuador,” said Arnaud Peral, the United Nations’ resident coordinator in Ecuador and one of the mediators of the nationally televised talks. “This deal is an extraordinary step.”

Wearing the feathered headdress and face paint of the Achuar people of the Amazon rainforest, the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations, Jaime Vargas, thanked President Moreno and demanded improved long-term conditions for Indigenous Ecuadorians.

“We want peace for our brothers and sisters in this country,” Vargas said. “We don’t want more repression.”

The protests started when the President affirmed his support for an IMF-backed agreement, known as Decree 883.

The move sparked nationwide protests as prices rose overnight by about a 25% for gas and double for diesel. A state of emergency was imposed on Thursday. Truck and taxi drivers forced a partial shutdown of Quito’s airport and roadblocks have paralyzed major roads across the country.

Images from Quito showed protesters hurling gas bombs and stones, ransacking and vandalizing public buildings as well as clashing with the police in running battles late into the night.

Some protests became so violent that the government was actually forced to flee the capital of Quito for the coastal city of Guayaquil.

All of this was in response to Decree 883 which would have ended fuel subsidies that many of the country’s poorest citizens have come to rely on.

Other indigenous demands included higher taxes on the wealthy and the firing of the interior and defence ministers over their handling of the protests.

In a shift from the heated language of the last 10 days of protests, each side at the negotiations praised the other’s willingness to talk as they outlined their positions in the first hour before a short break.

“From our heart, we declare that we, the peoples and nations, have risen up in search of liberty,” Vargas told The Guardian. “We recognize the bravery of the men and women who rose up.”