Julián Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Barack Obama, offered sharp criticism of President Donald Trump and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in an interview with CBS this weekend that aired Sunday morning.
He also announced his run for the presidency in 2020 over the weekend.
“[President Trump] has created a tragedy at the border,” said Castro to CBS News’ Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation.”
Interestingly, he was citing an Obama-era policy that forced the separation of family units at the border — a policy the Trump administration paused and corrected months ago.
Castro, speaking from San Antonio, Texas, also took a swing at CBP officials during the interview, describing the management of their responsibilities as “terrible” and pointing specifically to the recent deaths of two children who were in their custody.
What he didn’t say there was that the parents or guardians of those children took a terrible risk in traveling northward with them in the first place — over a great distance and in the face of many known threats.
Castro supports neither detaining nor deporting family units seeking asylum or refugee status, he said.
The Democrat said of Trump, “He’s a failed leader on this issue and now he’s just trying to stoke his political base by bringing up the wall all the time. And it’s just a failure of leadership all around. I would end this kind of family detention. I would make sure that we invest in sensible, smart and effective border security that includes personnel, that includes the smart use of technology, and that does not scapegoat these immigrants but tries to look for a way that we can get to comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken immigration system.”
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Instead, he suggested ankle monitors, “so that you’re able to monitor where people are in the country and ensure that they report back when they need to, and that they are part of, you know, legal proceedings.”
He accused the president of “playing games” with illegal aliens’ rights to seek asylum.
“For the people who are already here, if they’ve been law abiding, if they pay a fine … they can get an earned path to citizenship.”
“I think that right now people are looking for a leader that can show they can get things done,” Castro also said, citing his own mayoral and cabinet secretary experience. “They want government that functions well now. Somebody that’s trying to bring people together instead of tear[ing] them apart,” he said.
Should Castro’s bid for the Oval Office be successful, the Harvard Law School graduate would be the country’s first Latino president.
A Mexican-American whose family immigration story played a central role in his announcement speech, Castro already faces stiff competition for his party’s nomination.
The ever-expanding roster of likely and/or confirmed Democrat contenders for the White House include former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Rep. John Delaney (Md.), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), and fellow Texan and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke.
“I’m going to go out there and make my case,” said Castro. “[And] I’m under no illusion right now that I’m in the pole position or anything. I’m not a frontrunner.”
In those statements, he was echoing the contentions by many on both sides of the aisle that his chances of securing the highest office are slim — and that his intent may be to secure a vice presidential spot on the ticket.
The Texas Democrat’s identical twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), will hold a senior position in his brother’s campaign, CBS News reported.
During his Saturday announcement, Castro pointed to climate change as one pillar of his platform, saying his first executive order, if elected, would be to recommit the country to the Paris climate agreement.
Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from that accord in June 2017. The effective date of that withdrawal, according to reports, is the day after the 2020 election.
Other pillars of Castro’s progressive platform include universal health care, pre-kindergarten education for all, the Green New Deal, and immigration reform.
He’s wasting his time and other peoples money. Castro has no chance.
— Kimberly Mantia (@Kimberly_Mantia) January 12, 2019
Ask him where the approximately 55 billion dollars is from his days of mismanagement and fraud as secretary of HUD in the Obama administration. Was also a complete failure as mayor of San Antonio.
— Paul D. Chambers (@chamberspaul11) January 12, 2019
The Castro/Gabbard crux is that a member of the House has not gone right to the WH since 1881 & no former mayor in history has gone right to the WH without being a senator or governor. Have nothing bad to say about either of them, but perhaps they're really both VP candidates.
— Billy Lawrence (@Wklawrence) January 12, 2019
— M4D (@M4Defense) January 13, 2019
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.