Running while brown: How Julián Castro is navigating white presidential politics

"For the only Latino in the race, the road to 2020 is lined by political hurdles that the white men running for president won't face."

EAST LOS ANGELES — By the time his plane touched down in California at the end of a whirlwind week, Julián Castro had set an early political benchmark in the crowded presidential race.

It was early April, and the former mayor and housing secretary had just released a sweeping immigration policy platform, garnering national headlines and widespread praise from immigration reform advocates who went as far as calling his proposals “exactly what we need in this moment.”

Castro was still struggling to break from the pack, but he was the first in the field with a detailed plan to tackle the one issue that could come to define the 2020 presidential campaign. Yet when he sat down for an interview on comedian Bill Maher’s television show, the host instead catalogued Castro’s proposal in terms that the white men also running for president would surely never face.

“My question is why did you pick that policy?” Maher questioned. “Because it would be like if Obama when he first came out, his first issue was reparations or affirmative action when he was trying to say, ‘I’m going to be the president of everybody.’”

Castro was characteristically judicious in his reaction, even as Maher went on to point out he believed that immigration was an “obvious issue” for Castro, who already had “those people.” Castro paused slightly as he began to answer, looking away for a beat as he searched for the right words.

“Well, I think people also want to know what’s close to your heart, and that’s close to my heart,” Castro replied before explaining that leading with an extensive immigration policy was a no-brainer.

“I grew up with a grandmother who came over from Mexico when she was 7 years old because her parents had died,” he went on. “My family has lived …

READ MORE

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

Biden Says He’ll Introduce Immigration Bill ‘Immediately’

Victor Landa January 11, 2021

President-elect Joe Biden says he’ll introduce immigration legislation “immediately” after taking office later this month, and that his Justice Department will investigate the Trump administration’s separation of migrant children from […]

Here Are All Of the Latinos Set to Serve in Joe Biden’s Incoming Administration So Far

Victor Landa January 5, 2021

President Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration is just days away and the entire country is buzzing with the prospect of change. Joe Biden ran his campaign on a message of unity […]

When COVID Info Doesn’t Reach Everyone, These Trusted Messengers Step Up To Help In Hard-Hit Latino Communities

Victor Landa

A silver van pulls up to a coronavirus testing site in the parking lot of La Familia, a daycare and family services center in Fort Collins. Cristina Diaz and her […]

Latino Voter Outreach Strong Ahead of Georgia Runoff Elections

Victor Landa

A new year is finally here, but for Gigi Pedraza, executive director of the Latino Community Fund in Georgia, the 2020 election season is still going strong. The nonpartisan organization, […]

Advocates worry vaccines will be out of reach for Black and Hispanic neighborhoods devastated by COVID-19

Victor Landa January 11, 2021

COVID-19 has been disproportionately deadly for communities of color in Texas. And advocates for those communities are worried that they will have more trouble accessing vaccinations than the white population […]

Job Losses in 2020 Were Worst Since 1939, With Latinos, Blacks, Teenagers Among Hardest Hit

Victor Landa

December capped the worst year for U.S. job losses in records tracing back to 1939, with Hispanics, Blacks, teenagers and high-school dropouts hit particularly hard. In 2020, the economy shed […]

The US economic recovery is skipping Latina and Black women

Victor Landa January 12, 2021

The American economy is slowly recovering, but Black and Hispanic women are being left behind. The latest data show the US unemployment rate stayed steady at 6.7% for the month […]

A united Hispanic Caucus supports articles of impeachment against Donald Trump

Victor Landa

All 34 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have unanimously agreed to support impeachment, calling for the immediate removal of President Donald Trump, now in his final days of office. […]