Politics

In Presidential Announcement, Julián Castro Emphasizes Value of America’s Immigrant Experience

On Saturday, two days after President Donald Trump visited the Texas-Mexico border to warn of the dangers of immigration, San Antonio native son Julián Castro emphasized the value of America’s immigrant experience as he formally announced his bid for the Democratic nomination for president and to unseat Trump next year.

Recalling his grandmother Victoria’s journey into the United States as a seven-year-old orphan from Mexico, the former mayor and former secretary of Housing and Urban Development said: “When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago, I’m sure she never could have imagined that just two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words: I am a candidate for President of the United States of America.” Castro then repeated that story of his grandmother in Spanish.

Castro made his announcement at Plaza Guadalupeon San Antonio’s historic Hispanic Westside, in front of more than 2,500 supporters. The candidacy of this former San Antonio mayor and Obama administration cabinet member, and the heir to Hispanic hopes nationwide, was no great surprise for many who have followed his career.

“Six years ago, I had the honor of standing before the Democratic National Convention,” Castro said of his breakout moment on the national stage. “I said then that the American Dream is not a sprint or a marathon but a relay. My story wouldn’t be possible without the strong women who came before me and passed me the baton. Because of their hard work, I have the opportunity to stand here today. My family’s story wouldn’t be possible without a country that challenged itself to live up to the promise of America. That was the point of the American Dream: it wasn’t supposed to be just a dream. America was the place where dreams could become real. But right now, the relay isn’t working. Today we’re falling backward instead of moving forward. And the opportunities that made America America are reaching fewer and fewer people. Today, we’re at risk of dropping the baton. And that’s why we are here today. Because we’re going to make sure that the promise of America is there for everyone.”

Julián Castro pauses to take a selfie before his announcement.

Photograph by Joel Salcido

The line to get into Plaza Guadalupe.

Photograph by Joel Salcido

Left:

Julián Castro pauses to take a selfie before his announcement.

Photograph by Joel Salcido

Right:

The line to get into Plaza Guadalupe.

Photograph by Joel Salcido

In many respects, Castro is the perfect political contrast to Trump: he represents Hispanic immigrant success at a time when Trump maligns many immigrants—legal or otherwise—as criminals. At age 44, Castro represents youth against Trump’s 72 years. And after having spent two years publicly preparing (and who knows how many years of private preparations) for his announcement, Castro represents careful deliberation against Trump’s impulsivity.

Castro was introduced by his mother, Rosie, a beloved Chicana-era icon from San Antonio; and she was introduce by U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro, Julián’s identical twin brother. Julián was also flanked his wife, Erica, a schoolteacher; his daughter Carina, who famously flipped her hair when TV panned to her during her father’s 2012 keynote speech during the Democratic National Convention; and his son, Christian.

Castro enters what is expected to be a large, wide-open Democratic field next year as one of the first major candidates and as an underdog. A year ago, the Washington Post projected as many as forty viable candidates who could end up seeking the Democratic nomination.

Within minutes of Castro’s announcement, he made his first campaign promise. As mayor, one of his signature achievements was when he successfully convinced the business community to work with him to endorse a referendum that raised the local sales tax to fund full-day pre-kindergarten, which is called PreK4SA.

“Here in San Antonio, I made PreK4SA happen. As president, we’ll make Pre-K 4 the USA happen—universal pre-kindergarten for all children whose parents want it, so that all of our nation’s students can get a strong start.”

Photograph by Joel Salcido

In a November National Podcast of Texas interview, Castro told Texas Monthly that he fully expects a crowded primary field and that no one else’s candidacy would influence his ultimate decision on whether to run. Castro told the Associated Press on Wednesday that a large Democratic field should benefit voters. “A lot of people are going to run in this Democratic primary, and that’s going to be good for both the party and the country,” he said. “It’s going to be good for Democrats to get a sense of people of different backgrounds and different perspectives. I think it’s going to be cathartic.” Castro also said in his Texas Monthly interview that no Democrat can “out-gutter” President Trump and win.

Perhaps the biggest question mark relates to the potential challenge by fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke, of El Paso. O’Rourke’s formidable run against U.S. Senator Ted Cruz last year highlighted Republican vulnerabilities in what has been a solidly Republican Texas since Castro was a Stanford University student at age 20. And O’Rourke’s campaign style ignited a groundswell of national Democratic support that resulted in record-breaking contributions to his campaign.

 

The political calculus made by Castro, despite pressure to run for a statewide office last year, was that the electorate would not vote for someone for president who had just notched a loss on his political record. But critics of Castro’s choice to stay out of the fray, particularly when O’Rourke jumped in with gusto, suggest that the former mayor is too cautious, a style that would not play well against a no-holds-barred Trump. “Tell him to grow some balls,” one Texas moneyman told a Castro campaign adviser this week, even as he agreed to contribute to the campaign.

With his announcement speech, Castro did wade into some of the country’s most profound wedge issues. “To be the fairest nation, we have to reform and reimagine our justice system. All over this nation, for far too many people of color, any interaction with the police can become fatal. If police in Charleston can arrest Dylann Roof after he murdered nine people worshipping at Bible study without hurting him, then don’t tell me that Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice, and Aiyana Jones, and Eric Garner, and Jason Pero, and Stephon Clark, and Sandra Bland shouldn’t still be alive today too.”

Jayden De La Cruz, 9-years-old.

Photograph by Joel Salcido

Julián and his family on stage.

Photograph by Joel Salcido

Left:

Jayden De La Cruz, 9-years-old.

Photograph by Joel Salcido

Right:

Julián and his family on stage.

Photograph by Joel Salcido

He also called for universal health care, raising the minimum wage, abortion rights, enhancing the rights of organized labor, and affordable housing. Then he promised to countermand one of Trump’s early actions in office.

“Don’t let anybody tell you that we have to choose between growing our economy and protecting our planet,” Castro said. “We can fight climate change and create great jobs—and we don’t have a moment to waste. Scientists tell us that, if we don’t get serious right now, the consequences will be tragic. So we won’t wait. As president, my first executive order will  recommit the United States to the Paris Climate Accord. We’re gonna say no to subsidizing big oil and say yes to passing a Green New Deal.

Castro walks a fine line as it relates to his Hispanic appeal. He and his younger sibling-by-a-minute Joaquin have long been held up as the crown princes of Hispanic politicians—having succeeded another San Antonian, former mayor Henry Cisneros. Like Cisneros, part of Julián Castro’s appeal is his ability to work with white business and political leaders. In a glowing 2010 profile of Castro, the New York Times Magazine declared him “The Post-Hispanic Hispanic Politician.” It was a comparison made of Barack Obama as the post-racial president.

And like Obama, who embraced his race but avoided making it a regular part of his campaign, Castro is expected to run a campaign that embraces his heritage—highlighting that he is but two generations removed from a grandmother who immigrated to the United States from Mexico—but does not make it a focal point of his campaign.

He reminded the boisterous crowd of Trump’s visit to McAllen on Thursday to underscore what the president called a crisis at the border. “Well, there is a crisis today—it’s a crisis of leadership.  Donald Trump has failed to uphold the values of our great nation.”

The crowd.

Photograph by Joel Salcido

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Tags: Politics, 2020 Election, Julian Castro, san antonio

Comments

  • anonyfool

    Castro is probably a better national candidate than Beto simply because Beto’s voting record in Congress is pretty close to the average Republican’s voting record in congress, which works for Texas but is lousy for the coasts/urban areas. But with 40 entries it’s anybody’s ballgame, just like the years Bill Clinton and Barack Obama won the primaries.

  • mustang

    Wow, Texas Monthly is really going to be conflicted in leaning toward Castro or Bobby “hit and tried to run” O’Rourke. At least Castro is a true Hispanic v. a self anointed fake nicknamed person.

    • Jed

      Still only got one trick huh?

      • mustang

        Facts Jed. I know for sycophants like you the truth is hard to swallow, but get use to it, the facts aren’t going to be erased. Perhaps you should find a new horse to ride .

    • adam Campos

      Amen!

  • CalmaAlma

    Hispanics aren’t immigrants. They’ve been here—they are Native American and European (Spanish who arrived in 1492).

  • Fantasy Maker

    Another ‘free stuff for all’ democrat throws his sombrero into the ring. If nothing else it will be fun to watch the candidates promising stuff, each will promise more stuff than the prior liberal mouth breather.
    Not one of them will explain how the stuff will be paid for and that even taxing rich more than now , there STILL will not enough money for all this stuff.

  • JP

    “We’re gonna say no to subsidizing big oil and say yes to passing a Green New Deal.”

    We hear this a lot but the very entities they rail against are doing the heavy lifting.

    http://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/gtr2018v2.pdf

    “Investment in renewable energy R&D grew for
    the fourth year running, to establish a second
    successive annual record, rising 6% to $9.9 billion
    (Figure 48). The increase last year was entirely
    due to rising corporate investment, up 12% to
    $4.8 billion, while government spending stayed
    flat at $5.1 billion. Government investment was
    still 6% lower than its peak of $5.4 billion in 2009,
    when it was boosted by ‘green stimulus’ spending
    after the financial crisis. This gap has persisted
    despite the creation of Mission Innovation at the
    Paris climate talks in 2015, when 22 countries
    committed to double their clean energy R&D
    within a decade, implying perhaps $10 billion per
    year by 2025. There was a 16% rise in government
    renewable energy R&D in 2016, but so far further
    increases have not been recorded.”

  • Kozmo

    As a long-time resident of central Texas, I’m underwhelmed by his
    resume or record. He’s accomplished very little yet wants to get a
    promotion to the top job; he’s been too timid to challenge the
    Republican Party in Texas, hasn’t ever run a statewide race. That is
    hardly inspiring. He’d be completely out of his league in DC even if he
    got there (that much at least is like Obama).

    Presumably, he’s actually calculating how to best get the veep pick.

  • Pat Griffin

    Number 1 plank in in Castro’s campaign platform:
    TEAR DOWN THAT WALL, BUILD THE ILLEGALS A NICE BRIDGE ACROSS THE RIO GRANDE !

    • Jed

      There is no wall. There are already bridges.

      What a dumbass.

      • Wurty

        But they are too stupid ti use the bridge. Instead they try to swim the river and drown because the marijuana bales are too heavy .

        • Jed

          Drown in what? There is no water.

          You think people are still smuggling weed INTO the US? Have you heard of Colorado? California? Nevada? I could go on …

          Usually when I feel the urge to call someone else “stupid” I try not to do it at the same time as I say mutiple stupid things. It tends to undercut the credibility of the intended insult.

          • dickslastretort

            Hell, I’m all for weed/hemp production. Want to grow poppies here 2?

      • dickslastretort

        I think you missed the point, Jed.

      • Pat Griffin

        No wall YET, but by the time ole Beto really starts his campaign it will be there. The illegals would like to have a bridge with out all that congestion they would face at the LEGAL bridges. He is so understanding he would gladly advocate spending billions on that (to assure their vote).

        I am too much of a gentleman to respond to the name you gave me.
        Have a wonderful day !

  • Wurty

    I’d say that Marco Rubio’s immigration story is the most in line with the immigration values Americans appreciate. Read his book, Marco Rubio , an America Dream. It’s about immigrating and assimilating.
    Castro’s idea is that illegal aliens alien; rapists, druggies, sex traffickers, terroists, gang mrmbers, et all should be allowed in too. The guy is delusional and is afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome .

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