Election 2020
Portrait of Julián Castro
Portrait of Julián Castro

Julián Castro

Democratic candidate

Castro is a former mayor of San Antonio and was head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama. He became a national figure when he gave the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and has emphasized pre-kindergarten programs and affordable housing in his run. Castro, 44, announced his presidential bid in his hometown of San Antonio, saying that “no front-runners” are born in the neighborhood where he and his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, grew up with their activist mother. If elected, he would be the nation’s first Latino president.

In depth

Julián Castro is escaping the back of the Democratic pack. How far will he get?: Not at the front, but out of obscurity.

David Weigel | July 28, 2019 | 7 minutes

Climate change

Castro aims for the United States to cut emissions in half by 2030 and then get to net zero emissions by 2045. He said his first executive action would be rejoining the Paris climate agreement. He supports a carbon price as well as a ban on public-land drilling and an end to fossil-fuel subsidies.

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Education

Castro calls for a commitment to create a fairer education system, with universal free pre-K, increased teacher pay and smaller class sizes. He proposes free tuition at public universities, community colleges and technical schools, and decreasing student-loan debt, particularly for people receiving public assistance or living under 250 percent of the federal poverty line.

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Foreign policy

Castro said there would not by U.S. troops in Afghanistan by the end of his first term. In the first debate, he named China as well as climate change as the greatest geopolitical threats. Castro said in a later debate that as president, he would “immediately begin to negotiate with China to ratchet down that trade war.”

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Government

Castro said he supports eliminating the electoral college and making Election Day a federal holiday, with automatic or same-day voter registration. He has said that he’s open to term limits on Supreme Court justices but that he doesn’t support adding justices to “pack” the court.

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Health care

Castro has said that Medicare “should be there for everybody” and that he supports moving toward a universal government-run program. Infants and people who lose their employer-sponsored insurance would be automatically enrolled. But his plan also would allow people to choose private insurance or to opt out of Medicare. Castro says undocumented immigrants should be covered by the government health-care plan.

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Immigration

Castro was the first candidate to offer a detailed immigration plan, calling for an end to criminal penalties for undocumented immigrants and to detention as a tool for most immigration enforcement. His plan involves increasing refugee quotas and providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He said he would create a “21st-century Marshall Plan” for Central America to address woeful conditions there. He also called for reconstituting Immigration and Customs Enforcement by reassigning its interior enforcement functions to other agencies.

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