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Democratic presidential hopeful announces that he wants to decriminalize illegal immigration


He also proposed more financial aid to Central American countries

Ted Soqui/Getty Images

Julian Castro, a 2020 presidential hopeful and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said that he wanted to decriminalize illegal immigration and move it out of the purview of the criminal justice system.

What did he say?

In a Medium blog post, Castro said that the immigration system needs to be improved by providing "a pathway to full and equal citizenship for the 11 million people living here peacefully." He also criticized the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy toward illegal immigration, blaming it for family separations.

He went on to argue:

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.

Rather than calling for the complete abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Castro proposed splitting it into two parts, "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."

Castro said that the U.S. ports of entry were "criminally under-resourced" and that this has "created a backlog at our borders."

What about increasing aid to Central American countries?

In addition, Castro called for "a 21st century Marshall Plan for Central America," referring to the $12 billion the U.S. gave at the end of World War II to pay for the rebuilding of Europe. Castro said that this money would focus on "stabilizing the nations that are the main sources of migration to the United States," as well as indirectly boosting "U.S. economic growth."

This promise of aid comes just two days after the Trump administration announced that it would be ending aid to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala over their failure to stop the influx of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border.

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