Julian Castro has become the first Democrat to formally launch a 2020 presidential campaign. He made the announcement last Saturday in San Antonio, TX—the town where he grew up and served as mayor.
With that speech, Castro is the first Democrat to lay out the broad outlines of what his platform will look like. He included items such as:
- Fund universal pre-K
- Increase access to affordable post-secondary education
- Implement Medicare for all
- Reform the criminal justice system
- Raise the minimum wage
- Support organized labor
- Protect a woman’s right to chose
- Protect people from discrimination no matter who they love or how they identify
- Expand affordable housing
- Recommit to the Paris Climate accord
- Support a Green New Deal
- No PAC money for his campaign
- Overturn Citizens United
I’m sure that over time Castro will go into more depth on these issues. But I’ve purposely left one out because I want to highlight the fact that he included it on his list. During the course of his speech, Castro said, “We say no to building a wall and say yes to building community. We say no to scapegoating immigrants, and yes to Dreamers, yes to keeping families together, and yes to finally passing comprehensive immigration reform.”
With that statement, I hope that Castro threw out a marker for the other candidates who will eventually make announcement speeches. It is not enough to say “no” to Trump’s wall or his scapegoating of immigrants. It’s not even enough to say “yes” to Dreamers. The Democratic position must continue to be that they are the party saying “yes” to comprehensive immigration reform.
Back in 2013, Democrats agreed to Republican demands for border security in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants. That is the basis for comprehensive immigration reform. At the time, right-wingers in the House wouldn’t allow a vote on such a compromise. But some members of the GOP have now attempted to shift the debate to the right and have suggested that their “compromise” position is to offer protections for Dreamers in exchange Trump’s wall.
Think of the precedent that would set. Republicans rejected a compromise solution that addressed their concerns. After heavy doses of fear-mongering lies about immigrants, they came back and offered Democrats less of their agenda in exchange for a ramped-up, ridiculous demand. A firm “no” to all of that would be in order.
It is time for Democrats to remind voters that their agenda includes passage of comprehensive immigration reform. That is what Julian Castro just did. The rest of the 2020 Democratic field should take note and follow in his footsteps.