EAGLE PASS, Texas – Presidential candidate Julián Castro points out that the United States has always been a country of immigrants.

The former mayor of San Antonio visited the international bridge in Eagle Pass, where his grandmother first crossed into the United States, to make the case for comprehensive immigration reform.

“Our nation has always been a country of immigrants, throughout the generations, wherever they have come from. From Ireland, or Germany, or China, India, or Africa. They have made a profound and positive difference to our nation’s progress,” Castro said.

“That is true today and if we get this right it will be true tomorrow. We can have a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants and a greater America because of that.”

Castro, the former U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development, made a video at the Eagle Pass port of entry.

“This place, this border crossing in Eagle Pass is very special for me because my grandmother who I grew up with, Victoria Castro, came across in 1922. She had lost both of her parents in Mexico and she ended up living with her nearest relatives on the west side of San Antonio, where she raised my mother as a single parent and my raised my brother and me as a single parent,” Castro said.

Castro’s twin brother is Joaquin Castro, a member of Congress from San Antonio.

“Just two generations after my grandmother came across this border, one of her grandsons, my brother Joaquin, is a member of Congress and I am running for president of the United States.”

Castro said Americans can help create a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And if they do this America can be a greater country for it. 

“You can help make that happen. Don’t believe the lies. Go find the facts,” Castro said. He urged Americans to reject President Trump when it comes to border security and immigration, arguing that Trump has created a “circus of fear and paranoia.” He said the President has told lies about the border region and immigration.

“Don’t take the bait. We know that today how Eagle Paso, El Paso, McAllen, Texas, and many communities along the border are some of the safest cities for their size in the United States,” Castro said.

“We know that apprehensions around the southern border are at some of the lowest levels since the early 1970s. And we also know that the vast majority of Americans don’t want a border wall.”

Castro said what Americans do want is to make sure the government invests in international ports of entry like that at Eagle Pass.

“By doing that we can make sure that we deal with the drug trafficking and human trafficking that often happens through these ports of entry and that we make our country as safe as possible.”

Castro said the U.S. needs to deal with the issue of immigration in a “humane and compassionate” way. 

“We don’t need to choose between having border security and being compassionate. We can do both of those things. Ultimately, we can have comprehensive immigration reform.”

LUPE response

Juanita Valdez-Cox, executive director of La Unión del Pueblo Entero.

Juanita Valdez-Cox, Executive Director of La Unión del Pueblo Entero and member of the Equal Voice Network, described as “fake” the “national emergency” President Trump declared.

“This fake national emergency is just another vehicle for the president to spew his brand of racism and hate. But our border communities are strong and our struggle for dignity is motivated by love: love for our families that we work hard to uplift, love for our community that we want to see progress,” Valdez-Cox said.

“The shame and blame tactics of this president distract from the ability to take on the true challenges of our time. When some politicians point to new immigrants in order to divide and distract us, it makes it easier for them to give kickbacks to their friends and cut funding for education, healthcare, infrastructure, and good jobs.”

Valdez-Cox said the American people must hold Congress accountable for allowing Trump’s “divide and distract” strategy. 

“Elected officials must stand strong and defend the constitution and the civil liberties of all people in this nation. This month the administration will begin construction of border walls that Congressman Cuellar voted to approve. The bulldozers have already moved in and are clearing the path for the wall in our backyard. Congressman Cuellar must hear our outrage and disapproval for his capitulation to Trump’s hate and racism.”

Cuellar has explained his vote last year for a funding bill that included monies for a border wall. If Congress had voted against the bill, he said, there would have been a government shutdown and he would never support a government shutdown.

In response to the “#FakeNationalEmergency” declared by the president, Valdez-Cox said national groups are calling for a nationwide mobilization on President’s Day. 

“La Unión del Pueblo Entero in partnership with MoveOn and other organizations across the nation are mobilizing the community to come together in a nonviolent rally to stand up against Trump’s #FakeNationalEmergency. Let’s defend our democracy and immigrant, Muslim, black, and brown communities from Trump’s dangerous national emergency power grab,” Valdez-Cox said.