Government

Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro cancels Iowa fundraisers with Democrats

Will be protesting at southern border instead

(File photo) Then-U. S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro visits with Linn-Mar High School graduates Sruthi Palaniappan, center, and Allie Hoskins after speaking in July 2016 to Iowa delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)
(File photo) Then-U. S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro visits with Linn-Mar High School graduates Sruthi Palaniappan, center, and Allie Hoskins after speaking in July 2016 to Iowa delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)

Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro has canceled visits to Linn and Johnson counties this weekend because of the urgency to end the Trump administration policy of separating parents and children who enter the country illegally.

“It’s most important to me to lend a strong voice,” so he will be with activists outside El Paso Sunday “to keep the pressure up, to get the president to change his policy.

“I will be a part of the effort to hold the administration’s feet to the fire to do this in safe and speedy way,” Castro said.

Castro, who has said he’ll make a decision this year whether to seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, was scheduled to attend fundraisers for Democratic candidates in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Saturday.

“There’s excellent work happening in Iowa to elect Democrats in November and I’m looking forward to contributing to that effort in the weeks to come,” he said Wednesday.

Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, one of the hostesses of the Iowa City event, said she was disappointed Castro would not attend, but the event will go on.

“We are determined to do all we can to flip the Iowa House, so we hope to see a huge crowd,” Mascher said.

Castro, however, will be participating in a rally outside El Paso Sunday.

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“It’s most important to me to lend a strong voice … to keep the pressure up, to get the president to change his policy,” Castro said.

The issue of family separation is personal to Castro. His grandmother crossed the United States-Mexico border in 1922 as a 6-year-old orphan with two younger cousins.

“In two generations, his family went from immigrants to federal officeholders in Congress and the presidential Cabinet,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Fiore. His twin brother, Joaquin, is a member of the U.S. House from Texas.

Castro attended direct actions on Father’s Day and Monday in McAllen and Brownsville, Texas.

Fiore said Castro hopes to get to Cedar Rapids to support the Linn County Phoenix Club, a Democratic fundraising group, and Iowa City meet with Flip It Iowa’s activists, who Tuesday night emailed to ask if he could speak with them about the family separation issue, Fiore said.

“He’s also looking forward to supporting great candidates like Abby Finkenauer and Deidre DeJear” — candidates for the U.S. House in Iowa’s 1st District and Secretary of State, respectively, she said. He also wants to meet College and Young Dems and Latino Political Network as well as other groups.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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