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SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 12: Julian Castro, former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary and San Antonio Mayor, announces his candidacy for president in 2020 at Plaza Guadalupe on January 12, 2019, in San Antonio, Texas. If successful, Castro would be the first Hispanic candidate to win the White House. (Photo by Edward A. Ornelas/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 12: Julian Castro, former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary and San Antonio Mayor, announces his candidacy for president in 2020 at Plaza Guadalupe on January 12, 2019, in San Antonio, Texas. If…

What distinguishes Julián Castro from the rest of the Democratic candidates?

The former mayor of San Antonio is not only the only Latino candidate for the Democratic nomination but also the only one who has a comprehensive immigration…

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Among the now 18 candidates running for the Democratic nomination, Julián Castro has made a difference for several reasons.

While American political traditionalism makes all candidates go to Iowa once they have decided to seek the presidency, Castro agreed to break with the scheme and travel first to the island of Puerto Rico.

"I want the people of Puerto Rico to know this," Castro said during his visit. "If I’m elected president, I will work each and every day to make sure that not only will you recover but that you will thrive, to make sure that you are respected, to make sure that you count."

This gesture set the tone for the rest of his campaign, an odyssey where the former mayor of San Antonio has had to maintain the balance between the weight of his ethnic descent and the value of his political proposals.

After countless interviews and public appearances, the candidate has been drawing his road map and what would mean to be elected president of the United States. Among them, support for free trade, an energy strategy that includes fossil fuels, respect for the LGBTQ + community, and free choice regarding abortion.

The vast majority of the Democratic candidates considers and bases their campaign on these options. However, there is one thing that only Castro has brought to the table:

An immigration proposal

Castro has insisted during his campaign that "cruelty is not the solution" to the immigration problem, as the Trump Administration puts it.

Making frequent references to the history of his family - his grandmother immigrated to Texas from Coahuila, Mexico, as a child - the candidate has distinguished a functioning immigration system and a radical anti-immigrant campaign.

"Yeah, we have to have border security, but there’s a smart and humane way to do it," he said in his inaugural campaign speech. "And there's no way in hell that caging babies is a smart or a good or a right way to do it. We say 'no' to building a wall and 'yes' to building community."

He subsequently merged these ideas into his "People First Immigration Policy" project, where he describes the priorities for the country:

  • Reform the immigration system and include a path for citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have built a life in the country; modernize the visa system and reverse the radical changes introduced by the Trump Administration (such as migratory vetoes or denaturalization systems).
  • A "human border" policy that re-catalogs the illegal border crossing as a civil and non-criminal offense and thus avoids the separation of families, and the private prison industry from profiting through the suffering of immigrant families.
  • To reform the Immigration and Customs Agency (ICE).
  • Establish a twenty-first century Marshall Plan for Central America that includes the modernization of diplomacy, high standards of government, transparency and anti-corruption campaigns, thus improving the living conditions of those fleeing towards the U.S. border.

While his Democratic opponents highlight medical care or the minimum wage and ignore this issue, Castro has decided to catch up with the Republican discourse and resume the conversation around immigration from the perspective of those who know the matter first hand.

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