Julian Castro is known as the “Latino Obama,” the candidate with immigrant roots and American dreams. Get to know this candidate, whose Latinx name sticks out in a crowded field.

By Jennifer Mota
May 03, 2019 05:02 PM

Politics can seem overwhelming at a time when 21 Democrats are running for the 2020 presidency. With a plethora of candidates from all parts of the country and different points-of-view spitting messages our way, choosing a specific candidate has probably never been tougher. Prepare yourselves for the next 18 months by getting to know all the candidates.

Julian Castro has been called “the Latino Obama.” The following facts might help you determine if he’s the right candidate for you.

1. He’s a Proud Affirmative Action Recipient

Photo by Edward A. Ornelas/Getty Images)

Castro was born in San Antonio, Texas, and became mayor of the city at 30 years old. Though he ran for mayor four years after, he was defeated by Phil Hardberger. He did not back down and ran again in 2009, winning the race he would later be re elected in 2011 and 2013.

He graduated from Jefferson High School, then Stanford University and then Harvard Law School. He is very aware that affirmative action is the reason he was accepted to Stanford. “I scored 1,210 on my SATs, which was lower than the median matriculating student. But I did fine in college and in law school. So did Joaquín. I’m a strong supporter of affirmative action because I’ve seen it work in my own life,” he said in a 2010 interview for The New York Times Magazine.

2. His mom is a Chicana activist

Dallas News: Photographer Erich Schlegel)

Castro credits his mom for wanting to be involved in public office. His mother, Rosie Castro, is an activist for Mexican rights who once tried to run for city council in 1971. Rosie helped lay out the foundation for the third party La Raza Unida. Growing up around her radicalism and accompanying her to political events in the Chicano community trained Julian and his brother to become well-seasoned leaders and political organizers.

3. Twingate: He has an identical twin brother

His twin brother Joaquin is also involved in politics. He was a former member of the Texas House, represents San Antonio in the House and is now Julian’s campaign manager.

The twins were caught in a scandal when both were scheduled to stand on a float for the city’s River Parade and only Joaquin showed up — but announced as Julian. He stated that he had a conflicting schedule and couldn’t make the event. Due to the fact that there were more than 200,000 people, Joaquin’s “No I’m not Julian” screams were left unheard as he waived. This was known as twingate.

4. He served under President Obama

Photo by Jewel Samad

At 39, he became the youngest member of Obama’s cabinet. Serving the last three years as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

5. He does not speak Spanish

Photo by: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbi

In an attempt to avoid the criticism she faced, Rosie Castro raised her sons speaking English. She was reprimanded for speaking Spanish in school, like many Chicanos of her generation. Many believe that this may take his chance away to appeal to the Latinx community. Something important to note: He is a third-generation Mexican-American. 

Growing up 150 miles away from the Mexican border, Julian doesn’t consider himself “Hispanic,” but a Tejano, Texans of Mexican descent. His assimilation might make him unappealing to the Latinx voter, though he had the opportunity to study Spanish, he instead learned Latin and Japanese.

6. He visited Puerto Rico the day after his presidential-run announcement

The day after he announced his run for presidency he visited the island of Puerto Rico. When asked on The View by Sunny Hostin why he went, considering the fact that people on the island can’t vote he answered: “I think today a lot of Americans, whether they’re in the little neighborhood La Playita, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that I visited that is still struggling, whether they’re there or small town in Ohio, and factory jobs have left over the last few years — a lot of people feel forgotten. People in urban Detroit, all over the place — I wanted to send a strong message from the beginning that if I’m president, you matter and your family matters.”

7. He posted his immigration policy proposal

His People First Immigration Policy was posted on his campaign page in the beginning of April. Reversing policies like the Muslim ban, the spending on a wall and the cuts to refugee programs would be high priority. The candidate wants a pathway to full and equal citizenship for the undocumented contributing to the economy. He also says he aims to protect Dreamers, their parents, and those fleeing natural disasters, persecution or violence.

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