Obama protege Julian Castro joins US 2020 presidential race

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The former mayor of San Antonio and HUD secretary under President Obama officially announced his candidacy Saturday, framing it in the context of immigration: "When my grandmother got here [from Mexico] nearly 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", he told supporters in his hometown of San Antonio, per USA Today.

The impasse over paying for a border wall that Trump made a central part of his 2016 campaign has led to the partial federal closure. "Yes, there are serious issues that need to be addressed in our broken immigration system, but seeking asylum is a legal right, and the cruel policies of this administration are doing real harm and damage". "Yeah, we have to have border security", he said. And there is no way in hell that caging babies is a smart or a good or a right way to do it.

"We say no to building a wall and say yes to building community", he said, to roars from the crowd.

The Spanish-style plaza in the Castro twins' boyhood neighborhood was packed with supporters who streamed through the gates between a mariachi band.

His identical twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, has represented their native San Antonio in Congress since 2013.

"His story is really the American story", Alex said.

But Castro, whose grandmother, Victoria Castro, was born in the Mexican border state of Coahuila, and crossed into the United States at Eagle Pass, Texas, in 1922 after her parents died during the Mexican Revolution, added that at no time in his life, from growing up on San Antonio's impoverished West Side to his run for mayor in 2009, was he considered the favorite to get ahead. If he had a disappointment, he said, it was that is grandmother, who died when he was younger, could not be there to see him. "We say no to scapegoating immigrants, and yes to 'Dreamers, ' yes to keeping families together".

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The Democratic field is starting to take shape even though the first primary elections are more than a year away.

Castro, who could end up being the only Latino in what is shaping up to be a crowded Democratic field, officially kicked off his campaign with a rally in his hometown of San Antonio, where he was mayor for five years. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey have moved ahead of Castro in name recognition.

Castro may not be the only Texan in the race, however.

"I have this heart for Julian". It wasn't long before Democrats nationally embraced him as a star in the making, particularly one from Texas, where a booming Hispanic population is rapidly changing the state's demographics and improving the party's fortunes.

Strategically, he reminded the crowd about his powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

Castro was vetted as a potential vice-presidential running mate to Hillary Clinton in 2016, but was overlooked as Virginia senator Tim Kaine was given the role. At 44, Castro is a younger candidate for office, and is running on a series of progressive ideals: no campaign donations from super PACs and corporations, a focus on climate change and environment, and support for Medicare For All.

Castro launched an exploratory committee for a potential campaign on December 12, citing a platform built on opportunity, education, housing, health care, immigration and the environment.

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