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Obama protege Julian Castro joins 2020 presidential race

Obama protege Julian Castro joins 2020 presidential race

Julián Castro, a former U.S. Cabinet secretary, launched his presidential campaign in the hometown where he served as mayor for three terms.

"I am a candidate for president of the United States", the 44-year-old Castro 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 U.S. from Mexico.

The grandson of an immigrant from Mexico, Castro said his grandmother could have never imagined that two generations later one son would be a member of Congress and another would be standing before the crowd to say, "I am a candidate for the president of the United States of America".

Castro's entrance makes him the only declared Latino in the Democratic field, a relatively powerful position given how the party has leaned on Latino voters and turnout efforts to tilt states like Nevada, Arizona and Texas their direction in recent years.

His first trip as a candidate will be to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, where an outcry has begun as the White House considers diverting disaster funding to pay for the border wall. "Yes, there are serious issues that need to be addressed in our broken immigration system, but seeking asylum is a legal right, and the cruel policies of this administration are doing real harm and damage".

Mr Castro would be the first identical twin elected president.

"We have to have border security, but there's a smart and humane way to do is", he said.

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Hispanic activists were already celebrating Castro's potential run for the White House, arguing his politics and life story served as an antidote to the Trump presidency, which has always been characterized by anti-immigrant rhetoric. He became the second Democrat to formally enter race, after former Maryland Representative John Delaney. "And there is no way in hell that caging babies is the right way to do it".

Launching his bid under the slogan "One nation, one destiny", he said: "We say no to the construction of the wall and yes to the construction of communities". There are about 700,000 young "Dreamers" who were brought into the USA illegally as children; advocates want to provide them with protection deportation and a chance to apply for citizenship. The Spanish-style plaza in the Castro twins' boyhood neighborhood was packed with supporters who streamed through the gates between a mariachi band.

With the election 22 months away, there are still plenty of candidates expected to announce their run, with two of the biggest names, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, expected to throw their hats into the ring. Yet with so many better known contenders considering the race, including fellow Texan Beto O'Rourke, Castro will have to work to stand out.

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who narrowly lost a Senate bid previous year, is also weighing a run and has been on the rise in very early polls. Ted Cruz turned O'Rourke into a national Democratic celebrity.

Castro was born into a well-known activist family.

Castro's national profile rose sharply in 2012 when he became the first Latino to deliver a keynote speech at the Democratic national nominating convention. He was the youngest-ever city councilman in San Antonio's history when he was elected in 2001 at age 26. He was also famously considered a frontrunner to be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's running mate in 2016, but she ultimately went with Senator Tim Kaine.