Castro Talks Immigration Reform at Civil Rights Summit

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Mayor Julián Castro defended immigration reform during the Civil Rights Summit in Austin this week. Castro, an honorary co-chair of the summit, and former Republican Governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, discussed immigration policy with Brian Sweany of Texas Monthly.

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Castro talks immigration reform at Civil Rights Summit. Screen shot via Statesman

When asked if he saw immigration as a civil rights issue, Castro said, “You can yes in the sense that it not only impacts folks who aren’t citizens yet, it impacts folks that are citizens,” pointing to the 1 million spouses of undocumented immigrants in the country and ‘DREAMers,’ those brought to the country illegally before age 16 and who would benefit from the DREAM Act, a path to citizenship for those among them who have lived in the country for at least five years, have graduated high school or have been accepted to college.

Castro called the 'DREAMers' Americans, for all “intents and purposes.”

“The question is now, are they going to have the same opportunities and be treated equally? I see it in the same vein as the civil rights movement.”

Castro advised to view immigration as a historical issue and consider America’s long tradition of welcoming new immigrants. We should focus on the making America stronger with the skills and brainpower of immigrants. “We need them as much as they need us,” he told the audience.

Watch the video via Austin American-Statesman here. He and Barbour also answered media questions regarding immigration policy.

Held at the LBJ Presidential Library from April 8-10, the summit celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and brings together all living U.S. presidents (with the exception of George H.W. Bush), including Jimmy Carter, who addressed the summit on Tuesday.

The summit is being live-streamed, click here to watch.

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