HUD Secretary Julian Castro, who was steeped in the racial and ethnic politics of his mother --  a Chicano radical of the 1970s who called for the secession of part of Texas from the United States and thus become an independent entity known as Aztlán -- is putting into effect the goals of progressives who have focused on race as the means for advancing their cause. He is rumored to be one of the principal candidates to serve as Vice President should Hillary Clinton win the general election this November. Should they win the election, Castro would have a great deal more authority to enact an agenda that goes back to before 1974, when he was born.
 
This week, Castro referred to Republican Donald Trump at the annual conference of the League of United Latin American Citizens, a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote the Latino community. “Despite the demonizing and scapegoating we hear out there," he said, "whether it’s from social media or some candidates running for President, this community is about hard work, faith, family, and a love of each other and this country.” He then reiterated themes that have distinguished his political career, first as mayor of San Antonio TX and as a member of the Obama cabinet since 2014. 
Castro has long believed that Latinos and other racial and ethnic minorities need legal and financial assistance from the government in order to succeed in the United States. He has cited, for example, that his SAT scores were not good enough to gain admission to prestigious Stanford University. Since then, Castro has praised affirmative action for affording him the opportunity to pass over other applicants. After graduating from Stanford, he received his law degree from Harvard law school. 
 
Castro asserted that the United States wins when everyone gets “a fair chance to succeed and contribute. And we’re lucky to have a man in the Oval Office right now who believes the same.” He praised Barack Obama as one of the “most important and effective Presidents ever to lead our nation … the best friend the Latino community has ever had in the Oval Office,” because he directed benefits to specified racial and ethnic groups. For example, Castro praised the administration’s progressive policies and its approval of more than $1 billion in loans to Latino businesses in 2014 alone. Castro said the Latino community was ravished when it lost 66 percent of their net worth during the last four years of President George W. Bush’s administration: "the most of any group." Because of  Obama's progressive policies, Castro believes Latino employment has increased under his leadership. He said, "...we’re seeing gains across the board. Paychecks have replaced pink slips. The Latino dropout rate is half of what it was in 2000."
Because he believes non-whites are victimized in this country without the protection of the government, Castro has long hurled strident appeals to advance politically progressive policies. As mayor of San Antonio in 2014, Castro compared the status of illegal aliens in the United States to the status of black slaves before the Civil War. In an MSNBC interview, with his identical twin brother U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) at his side, Mayor Castro and his brother agreed that Democrats condone amnesty and citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants. “It would be unprecedented in American history," said Julian, "for us to create a permanent class of folks who are not citizens outside of slavery. And we certainly learned our lesson from that.” 
 
Abashed by his overreach, Julian Castro quickly added, “I’m not comparing the two in any other sense except to say that we want -- we want, in the United States, for folks to be fully invested in our nation.”
In his communication as the top bureaucrat at one of the largest departments in the federal government, Castro continues to indicate how important the issues of race and ethnicity are to him and the Obama administration. 
 
On Feb. 23, he posted on Twitter: “Fair Housing means that communities can't stack or segregate folks by race. @HUDgov is providing tools to help ensure mobility. #PathwaysToOpportunity.”
 
In another tweet, he expressed appreciation to the head of the National Urban League: "Thanks to @marcmorial and @NatUrbanLeague for inviting me to speak w corporate diversity leaders. #BlackHistoryMonth."
Major Victory and a Major Shift in Race and Housing
 
Furthering the progressive agenda set by Obama, Castro is actively going ahead with the administration’s “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule,” which was first proposed in 2013 before he took office as HUD Secretary.
 
Building on a victorious US Supreme Court  ruling in 2015, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., the rule provides the federal government the means to socially engineer nearly every American neighborhood by imposing its preferred racial and ethnic composition. It would densify business and housing development, and transportation across the board and diminish the authority of local governments.
 
At the time, housing law expert Paul Compton of the Bradly Arant Boult Cummings law firm told the Weekly Standard that the ruling is "a real shift in emphasis from ensuring that the private sector and participants in federal programs don’t unlawfully discriminate to defining the existence of racially and ethnically ‘segregated’ neighborhoods to be in themselves a violation of fair housing." According to Compton, under the new rule, "if a neighborhood is not integrated in some vaguely defined ratio, then that in itself is a fair housing issue."
 
Stanley Kurtz of the National Review wrote that the rule promoted by Castro is an "annexation of American suburbs." According to Kurtz, the ruling would oblige any local jurisdiction that received HUD funding to analyze its housing occupancy by a number of categories including race, ethnicity, national origin, and English proficiency. They must also submit to HUD all factors, such as zoning laws and "lack of regional collaboration" that may account for any imbalance in living patterns. Localities must also develop a plan to remedy all imbalances identified by HUD. 
 
As the nation becomes more ideologically divided, it is crucial that the political parties capture more voters as races are decided by a handful of votes. Julian Castro's message of racial grievances and empowerment resonates with non-whites who increasingly fill the ranks of the Democratic Party's base. As the Latino population grows in the US, capturing this demographic is essential to obtain and hold power.
 
At a 2015 U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce conference, Hillary Clinton praised Castro and said she is going to "look really hard at him for anything, because that’s how good he is.” Later on, at a "Latinos for Hillary" rally, Castro said, "Through the years she has always, always been there for us, and today we’re here for her.” 


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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