Julian Castro, the telegenic former mayor of San Antonio, Texas and Obama-era cabinet member, launched his bid to become the nation’s first Hispanic president Saturday, emphasising a message of hope and diversity at a time when Americans are locked in angry debate over immigration and border security.
“I am a candidate for president of the United States,” the 44-year-ol told a crowd in San Antonio’s historic Guadalupe Plaza, during a speech that frequently invoked the immigrant heritage that brought his family to the US from Mexico.
Often called a rising star in the Democratic Party, Castro, who was Mr Obama’s housing secretary — and the youngest member of that cabinet — is expected to be part of a diverse field of candidates eager to challenge President Donald Trump.
At a time when the federal government has been partly shut down over President Trump’s demand for funds to build a wall on the Mexican border, Mr Castro sounded a contrasting message.
He said San Antonio, a city that is nearly two thirds Hispanic, “represents America’s future: diverse, fast-growing, optimistic.”
“Yes, we must have border security, but there is a smart and humane way to do it. And there is no way in hell that caging children is keeping us safe,” he said.
“We say no to building a wall and say yes to building community,” he added, to roars from the crowd.