Julián Castro served as the Secretary for Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration. Castro was also the Mayor of his hometown San Antonio, Texas. After law school, Castro worked at an international law firm in D.C. Soon after, he was elected to the San Antonio City Council, serving as the city’s youngest ever councilman. After holding the seat for several years, he left the City Council to launch an ultimately unsuccessful mayoral campaign in 2005. In 2009, after spending several years in private practice, he ran again and won, resigning early from his second term to join President Obama’s cabinet. He announced his 2020 presidential campaign at a rally in Plaza Guadalupe in San Antonio.
On the Issues
AAI tracks the official and campaign-trail statements of each presidential candidate on the issues we care about most.
Click the issues below to read what Julian Castro has said on the campaign trail.
For our take on why these are the 12 issues that are critical for our community, read here.
"Our nation succeeds when more Americans can participate in democracy. Important 1st steps:
- eliminate Electoral College
- require independent redistricting
- automatic/same-day voter reg
- E-Day as a fed holiday
- support DC statehood & self-determination for Puerto Rico" (3/25/2019, Twitter)
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
- 'I’m proud of my mother’s activism, because I know that it’s in part because of her activism and the activism of so many other folks that we have made some progress in this country." (7/16/2019, Democracy Now!)
- "I see housing as a human right. I don’t believe that there’s any reason — just like there’s no reason, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, that anybody should ever go without healthcare in this country, there is no reason that anybody should go without a basic, safe, decent place to live in our country."(7/16/2019, Democracy Now!)
Securitization and Surveillance
- “Establish guidelines for next-generation surveillance technologies, like facial recognition technology, that accounts for disparate impact and bias in their application.” (Campaign Website People First Policing Plan)
"Look, a few weeks ago, a shooter drove 10 miles inspired by this -- 10 hours inspired by this president to kill people who look like me and people who look like my family. White supremacy is a growing threat to this country, and we have to root it out.I'm proud that I put forward a plan to disarm hate. I'm also proud that I was the first to put forward a police reform plan, because we're not going to have any more Laquan McDonalds or Eric Garners or Michael Browns or Pamela Turners or Walter Scotts or Sandra Bland, here from the Houston area. We need to root out racism, and I believe that we can do that, because that doesn't represent the vast majority of Americans who do have a good heart. They also need a leader to match that, and I will be a president that matches that." (9/12/2019, third Democratic debate transcript at ABC)
“Entertaining the idea that you would shoot a human being just because they’re looking for a better life. You know, somebody can think that that’s all fun and games, but we’ve already seen during this administration the level of hate crimes increase. We’ve seen so many white supremacists go out there and say that they’re inspired by President Trump and shoot people. And so he’s being a grade-A idiot. To continue to foster the flames of division like that, that is unbecoming of a president, of anybody in public office.” (5/9/2019, Mother Jones)
Criminal Justice Reform
- “Well, I also think that we have to recognize racial and social justice. And you know, I was in Charleston not too long ago and I remembered that Dylan Roof went to the Mother Emmanuel AME church and he murdered nine people who were worshiping and then he was apprehended by police without incident. Well, what but what about Eric Garner and Tamir Rice and Laquan McDonald and Sandra Bland and Pamela Turner and Antonio Arset (SP)? I’m proud that I’m the only candidate so far that has put forward legislation that would reform our policing system in America and make sure that no matter the color of your skin is, that you are treated the same, including Latinos who are mistreated too often times by police.” (6/26/19, First Democratic Debate, transcript in The New York Times)
- “We must make America a fairer nation. That begins with police reform. No matter who you are, you should be treated fairly by law enforcement. I spoke to this yesterday in South Carolina. Check out my plan for police reform at http://juliancastro.com” (6/23/19, Twitter)
- “How many videos of police misconduct do we have to watch before we realize this isn’t a case of a few bad apples? The system is broken—but I’ve put forward a plan to mend the relationship between police departments and the communities they serve.” (6/13/19, Twitter)
- "We've seen video after video, incident after incident, of especially black men, who are gunned down and unarmed, at the hands of police officers. I know we have a lot of great officers, but it's not just a few bad apples. It's that the system is broken. I want to fix that system." (6/3/19, CBS News)
- “If you are a young black man walking on the streets of a community, you are treated differently and that is wrong. I was in South Carolina just yesterday in Charleston and it has struck me that if Dylann Roof who shot up Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston can be taken in without incident as he should be, them so can Eric Garner and Stephan Clark, and so many other people.” (3/19/19, Youtube)
Bigoted Speech: Instances of Condemnation and/or Use
"I’m glad to see that so many congressional representatives are stepping up today and condemning President Trump’s racist language. This is nothing new for this president. We know that he launched his campaign by inciting racial division. And this is called racial priming. We haven’t seen a politician in a long time who has built his career on hate and bigotry and trying to divide people along racial and ethnic lines, as this president has, whether it was failing to immediately condemn those neo-Nazis in Charlottesville early in his tenure or talking about the inability of a judge to do his job because, quote, “he’s Mexican,” or the way that he started off his campaign, by saying that Mexico was sending drug runners and rapists, and that maybe some of them were also good people. This is a president that knows what he’s doing. This is his strategy. This is his politics. This is how he thinks he won the 2016 election with a narrow Electoral College victory. And I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that he kicked off his 2020 campaign just a couple of weeks ago, and already he’s at it again." (7/16/2019, Democracy Now!)"I am grateful for @IlhanMN's courage and leadership and I stand with her - and with others targeted by the President's anti-Muslim rhetoric." (4/17/2019, Twitter)
CASTRO: Jorge, let me just say that I would -- I was the first candidate in early April to put forward an immigration plan. You know why? Because I'm not afraid of Donald Trump on this issue. I'm not going to back pedal. I'm not going to pretend like I don't have my own vision for immigration. So we're not going to give up DACA. We're not going to give up protections for anybody. I believe that on January 20, 2021, we're going to have a Democratic president, we're going to throw out Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn and have a Democratic Senate, and a Democratic House, and we're going to pass immigration reform within the first 100 days. (9/12/2019, third Democratic debate transcript at ABC)
So, we were having a discussion, on that first debate, about whether Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act should be repealed. I believe that it should be repealed. And this act essentially is what says that it’s a misdemeanor crime to cross the border. This act was passed in 1929. But between 1929 and about 2004, it actually was rarely enforced. Border crossing was rarely enforced as a crime. Instead, it was just treated as a civil violation, and people who crossed were subject to deportation, but that’s a civil process.
It started to be weaponized to a much greater extent by this Trump administration. That section was weaponized to charge migrant parents with a crime and then use that to separate them from their little children. So, my point has been, look, we can go back to the way that we used to treat these things, as a civil violation, and get rid of this law that allows this administration, and would allow some future administration perhaps, to weaponize it and to separate migrant parents from their children. I’ve said I want a guarantee that we never see this kind of family separation, this cruel family separation, again. And the only way to help guarantee that is to repeal that section. (7/16/2019, Democracy Now!)
- "The truth is, immigrants seeking refuge in our country aren’t a threat to national security. 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. (4/1/19, Medium)
"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. 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.
We must end the three and ten year bars that require undocumented individuals — who otherwise qualify for legal status — to leave the country and their families behind, in order to attain citizenship. We need to create a secure and humane border. The worst of the government’s actions stem from a little-known, but significant policy that is central to today’s inhumane and flawed immigration system:Section 1325....This shift to criminalize immigration is at the core of many of this administration’s most egregious immigration policies ....
The Trump administration has slashed the number of people who can claim asylum at our ports of entry, and weaponized Section 1325 to try and make it a crime to claim asylum outside a port of entry. These misguided policies, combined with criminally under-resourced ports of entry, have created a backlog at our borders. The result is apparent in the scenes from El Paso recently, where thousands of migrants were held with limited food and water in caged outdoor pens....
We must properly equip and modernize our ports of entry. It’s time we stopped relying on outdated detention practices and instead utilize proven alternatives, and eliminated the for-profit immigration detention industry. Customs and Border Protection must focus its efforts on border-related activities like drug and human trafficking, and we must drastically improve the oversight and accountability of our border enforcement officials. Additionally, it’s time we reconstitute Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and split the agency in half — keeping national security functions such as human and drug trafficking and anti-terrorism investigations within the Department of Homeland Security, and reassigning the enforcement functions to other agencies as appropriate to increase oversight and raise standards.
Donald Trump’s cruel and punitive “zero-tolerance” policies have done nothing to deter migrants or address the root causes of migration. And his recent short-sighted plan to cut foreign aid going to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador will only exacerbate the problem. I am calling for a 21st century Marshall Plan for Central America, focusing on stabilizing the nations that are the main sources of migration to the United States. Making investments in our southern neighbors boost U.S. economic growth, strengthens global relationships and helps ensure that all people can find the safety and stability they seek in their home countries." (4/1/19, Medium)
“Last month, there were 144,000 people that came to the southern border. And in our name, little children have been separated from their mothers. People, right now, about 100 people are in the 100-degree heat of El Paso, Texas, underneath the bridge, being fenced in and kept like animals together without the ability to shower or to change clothes for a whole month. That is a failure that this president has been on the issue of immigration, right?
So I say that we have tried this cruelty and his mistakes. There’s a better way to do this. And a couple of months ago, I release what I call my "People First" immigration plan that says, number one, that we need to treat people with compassion and with common sense instead of cruelty. That we need to put the undocumented immigrants who are in the United States as long as somebody hasn't committed a serious crime on a pathway to citizenship, including our Dreamers.” (6/14/19, Real Clear Politics)
NO BAN Act
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Secretary Castro, the president’s attacks on the four congresswomen come as his administration has announced that it would block nearly all migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S., in a new rule that violates both domestic and international law. The rule, which the ACLU has already vowed to challenge in court, would deny asylum to any migrant who failed to apply for protection in another country they pass through on the way to the U.S. border, including children traveling alone. And if it’s enacted, it would effectively block people from Honduras, Salvador and Guatemala from seeking refuge in the United States. I’m wondering your sense of this proposal of the administration?
JULIÁN CASTRO: It’s unconstitutional. I believe that this is going to be overturned in the courts. Obviously, happy to see the continued great work that the ACLU and others are doing on this.
Yeah, this is a president that promised his base that he was going to do something about this, quote, “immigration problem.” And he has irrationally and in a bigoted way, I believe, continued to try and stoke that base, with his Muslim travel ban, with this latest action. But at the same time, he’s actually failed on this issue. What we should have done — what he should have done, from day one of his administration, is actually work with Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, in a positive and productive way, as much as we can, so that people can find safety and opportunity at home, instead of having to come to the southern border of the United States.
But those who make it to the southern border of the United States should absolutely be able to make their asylum claim. If I were president right now, I would immediately end this “Remain in Mexico” policy, the metering policy, which is basically playing games with people at ports of entry who want to make their asylum claim. We need an immigration policy that actually looks forward and honors asylum claims and sticks to our tradition in the United States of honoring those claims, instead of this erratic, haphazard and, I believe, bigoted approach that the president is taking. (7/16/2019, Democracy Now!)
- The next President must start by reversing the cruel policies of the Trump administration — including the Muslim ban, wasteful spending on a pointless wall, and cuts to the refugee program — and ending the vile rhetoric that has scapegoated and vilified immigrants. (4/1/19, Medium)
- “I believe that Israel, like a lot of other countries, wants to do the right thing, that they can get better. I do believe that we need to recognize and respect the human rights of Palestinians. I agree with Former Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel has to choose: It’s going to be a Jewish state, or a democratic state. That’s why I believe a two-state solution is the best solution for Israel. I recognize that that has been made harder over the years through the increase in settlements. My hope is that in the upcoming elections the Israeli people will send a stronger message about the need for a two-state solution.” (6/20/19, The New York Times)
“The Iran Nuclear Agreement was a landmark achievement that prevented a nuclear-armed Iran for more than 3 years. If Iran continues to comply with the terms of the agreement as determined by the intelligence community, I will re-enter the U.S. into the #JCPOA as President.” (3/20/19, Twitter)
- “The United States and Israel share a common goal with most of the rest of the world that Iran never secures nuclear weapons. I don’t believe it will happen as long as we are vigilant and remain committed to the goal. The US will always stand for a strong Israel and ensure that Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons.” (1/12/19, Time of Israel)
U.S. Presence in the Arab World
Reporter: Given the trajectory of the relationship and what we know of Mohammad bin Salman do you think the Saudis are still our ally?
Castro: That is a very good question and you know frankly I think that the Obama administration began to take a new look at that relationship. It’s also troubling. What we continue to find out about the relationship between the president’s family and the Saudi royal family. And so you know I acknowledge here that I’m not privy to classified information. I don’t know what other information there is or how helpful they may have been. But right now I would say that it certainly raises the question. And it’s alarming that Saudi Arabia would be progressing toward nuclear capacity in this way. And there seems to be little accountability right now. (4/17/2019, Crooked)
- Well, I, I think that many folks recognize that it was time for us to pull out of Syria. However, here's the thing. Once you're there, you have to make sure that you have a plan for your operations there and, also, for your withdrawal. So I'm not a big fan of the commitments America has made, over these last 15 years, whether it was the Iraq War or this commitment. However, I do believe, and I agree with folks that say, that both for our own sake, for the sake of our troops, for the sake of our allies, once you're there, you have to actually have a solid plan for how you're going to withdraw. And what we saw this week is not the way that it should be done by a president. (12/28/2019, Meet the Press)