**Via The Observer. Reprinted with permission. Read the original here**
By Bella Laufenberg
Former Mayor of San Antonio and Obama Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro discussed former President Trump and President Biden’s treatment of immigrants in a fireside talk Tuesday.
Castro was invited to Notre Dame in a joint endeavor between Notre Dame College Democrats and the Institute for Latino Studies (ILS). He entertained members of both groups and the public in a Q&A session in the Eck Visitor Center’s fully packed auditorium.
The talk was moderated by a former teacher of Castro’s, ILS director Luis Ricardo Fraga. Fraga asked Castro questions about topics ranging from his upbringing to his future aspirations.
As he answered Fraga’s questions, Castro criticized top political figures and described the inspiration behind his political aspirations.
Castro explained that he was prompted to run for president in 2020 because of the political atmosphere that was cultivated under Trump.
“What motivated me to run in 2020 was that I believed that I had a vision for the future where everyone could prosper,” Castro said.
One point Castro specifically brought up was Title 42 — a law that allowed the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to cite public health as a reason to refuse asylum to immigrants at the border. The law has been in place for decades but was recently brought back into the limelight when it was invoked under the Trump administration.
Castro said it was “understandable” for the Trump administration to invoke the law given its agenda; however, he said it was “mind-boggling” for Biden to permit Title 42’s use. Castro also brought up the recent resignation of a senior State Department official, Harold Koh, who referenced the administration’s “illegal” implementation of the law out of the Trump-era playbook in an internal memo before his departure.
In contrast to his scathing view of one of the current political realm’s most polarized topics, Castro also spoke about his upbringing in San Antonio. He said he originally was motivated to be a public servant because of his mother who raised his twin brother, Joaquin Castro, and him as a single parent.
“If there was something that sort of motivated my interest in politics, it was my mom,” Castro said. “My mom was a hell-raiser.”
He told the story of how she ran for city council in San Antonio but ultimately did not get elected because of a general lack of women and people of color in office at the time.
Throughout the remainder of his talk, Castro detailed much of his 2020 presidential campaign, including his condemnation of the media coverage he received as one of many Democratic candidates running in the 2020 election.
He admitted he did not get all the attention he believed he deserved during his campaign. Castro said he wanted to speak out more on hot-button racial issues but did not want to be categorized or stereotyped as the “immigration candidate.”
Castro acknowledged that the field of 25 candidates forced the media to make tough decisions, but he said he believes some aspects could have been handled differently, namely the first debate and the Iowa caucus.
Currently, Castro has started a platform called “People First Future” that raises money to elect “a new generation of leaders.” He said he will continue to focus on that project and spending time with his wife and two young children, putting another potential political run on the back burner for now.
His advice to those who were listening in the audience and to the up-and-coming population of leaders was to “use your passion” and always aim toward institutional change.