Julián Castro Talks Climate Change, Immigration With Two Undecided Voters | Off Script | NPR

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, everybody ready? Here we go. Welcome to Off Script, NPR’s series of conversations
with Democratic presidential hopefuls and voters about the issues that matter to them. I’m Lulu Garcia-Navarro, and with us today
is Secretary Julián Castro. He is the former secretary of housing and
urban development under President Obama, of course, but more pertinently perhaps, he is
the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, where we find ourselves today. Welcome. JULIÁN CASTRO: That’s right. You can hear the mariachis in the background
here. Perfect San Antonio. GARCIA-NAVARRO: I know you can hear the music. We’re wondering if we should actually put
in requests. We’re at this restaurant, Mi Tierra, and part
of the idea behind this is that through the choice of restaurant we get to know a little
bit about you. So why did you choose this restaurant? CASTRO: Well, Mi Tierra. For those who have visited San Antonio, they
may remember it as the most colorful, jovial restaurant in San Antonio. It’s really a favorite of both locals and
tourists. And it really represents I think a lot of
what San Antonio is about. It’s Tex-Mex food first of all, that blending
of different cultures with the Mexican influence. Also the family that started it, you know,
really lived immigrant’s American dream story here in South Texas, and they’ve passed it
from one generation to the next. There’s an entrepreneurialism there that I
think speaks to the spirit of the city. So a lot about San Antonio is reflected in
this restaurant. GARCIA-NAVARRO: And you’re also on the mural
behind us. There is a big mural with many notable figures
from San Antonio’s history and beyond. Many important Latinos. And there is a saying I understand here that
you will have made it in San Antonio politics once you make it on that mural. CASTRO: That’s right. It reflects, the mural behind us reflects generations
of San Antonioans — primarily Latinos — who have helped build up the community and it really
is a testament to this spirit of community that exists here. For folks who have visited the city, they
know it has its own unique vibe and one of those is a very family-oriented, community-oriented
vibe and that’s reflected in that mural. GARCIA-NAVARRO: I did read — and I want to
see if it’s true — that you took your wife on your first date here. Is that true? CASTRO: That is true. That was well before I was on the mural, too. GARCIA-NAVARRO: I was about to say… CASTRO: I was not that arrogant. GARCIA-NAVARRO: It’s a good way to convince
her. But you did tell her you were going to be
the mayor of San Antonio in that first date. CASTRO: I did, well I said that I was going
to run, yeah. We had our first date here on May 26, 1999. And actually we just came back a couple of
months ago to celebrate 20 years since our first date here at this restaurant. GARCIA-NAVARRO: That’s a nice story. I want to introduce our voters who are here
to speak with you. We’re going to speak with Dani Marrero Hi
and tell us a little bit about yourself, Dani. DANI MARRERO HI: Yeah. My name is Dani. I was born in Reynosa, Mexico. At the age of 7, my family, we moved to Mission,
Texas, which is literally right across the river. You know, so I live now like 10 minutes from
the hospital I was born in, in Mexico. You know, I’ve dedicated myself since I got
back from college in 2015 to … I went back to my community, and I’ve worked in immigrant
rights and also themes on border militarization. GARCIA-NAVARRO: And why are you particularly
interested in immigration? We’re going to talk about that in a little
bit. HI: Well as an immigrant myself, right, I
understand a lot of aspects about immigration, but I also understand that my story is a lot
simpler than so many others. My dad was born in the United States and so
our story was very easy. We were able to cross very easily. But I see so many of my peers and so many
people around me that it’s not as easy for them. And by just pure virtue that my dad was born
here, it seems such a random thing for my immigration story to be so different. And in terms of border militarization, you
know, when my family got here in the year 2000, we’ve seen how radical it has changed
in terms of technology and surveillance and the militarization of the border. And so I’ve grown up with this and so that’s
why it’s important to me. GARCIA-NAVARRO: And Alston Beinhorn is here
with us as well. Tell us a little bit about yourself. BEINHORN: Born and raised in San Antonio and
went to college in the Northeast. Worked as a rancher for a few years and then
migrated to banking and eventually went overseas with a global bank for 26 years, living in
Singapore, London, Toronto and then back to San Antonio since about 2013. GARCIA-NAVARRO: And your issue is climate
change. BEINHORN: That is my No. 1 issue. GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is what you want to talk
about today. Tell us briefly why. BEINHORN: I think that the current temperatures
and lack of rainfall — which does change over time, but hasn’t changed recently — is
unsustainable for us and cattle and horses and even our chickens. And I think it’s the most pressing issue. It’s not… for me. It’s not probably the most pressing for many
individual voters because it’s not happening maybe today or tomorrow, but it’s happening
for me today. I don’t think it’s sustainable. And I think this August that we just had here
was just despicable with the temperatures Though that is my main issue and I have others but
that’s what… GARCIA-NAVARRO: That’s what we’re going
to talk about today. All right, so we’re going to start with immigration. Dani, what’s your first question for Secretary
Castro? HI: Sure. So, like I mentioned, I live in Mission, Texas,
and I think for people that don’t live on the border, it’s hard to envision the negative
impact the border wall will have or even how it looks. You know, in the border in the Rio Grande
Valley where I’m from, we see how our community members have to fight for their land. We see how people have protested for years. We see also how people have submitted comments
to DHS, and yet Congress still has appropriated billions of dollars for the wall. And DHS has already begun awarding contracts,
and sometimes DHS awards contracts even before there’s a legitimate consulting process with
community members and even with the landowners themselves. But just as these contracts were awarded,
they can be canceled by a willing administration and they can be canceled. And not only that, we can revitalize areas
that have been negatively impacted by border barriers and they can be revitalized from
Brownsville, Texas, you know, all the way across, you know, to El Paso and then to California. We see this border barriers and communities
have been like destructively impacted. I would like to say … I would like to know
if your administration, for the contracts that have already been awarded, if you all
would be willing to cancel them and if you would also be willing to restore areas that
have been … that already have border barriers built. CASTRO: Thank you very much for the question,
Dani. You know, your experience is one that’s shared
by a lot of people who live down there on the border who have a real story to tell that
too oftentimes is not reflected in the mainstream coverage of immigration out there. And so I’m happy that we have an opportunity
to discuss what’s actually happening down there on the border. Yeah, I’ve said that I’m completely against
building the wall. I don’t believe that it’s going to be effective. I also object to the taking of land from people
who have owned land down there for generations. I object to the way this administration has
gone around Congress to move money that should have gone to improve facilities for our troops
and active servicemen and women in the United States and around the world and taking that
money and put it to try and build this wall. Your specific question is: “What would I
do about these contracts?” As much as we possibly can, if there are ways
for us to put a stop to any of that spending of money, I will. So on Jan. 20, 2021, I will issue an executive
order to put a stop to any kind of spending on building a wall. That’s going to be easier than it would be
if Congress had actually appropriated resources recently to build a wall; as you know, the
president has taken a whole bunch of resources, like I mentioned, from other programs and
tried to appropriate it there. If that is not stopped by the courts before
the next administration takes over, and I’m elected president, I will put a stop to it. GARCIA-NAVARRO: You have been ahead on issues of immigration throughout this campaign, but President Trump has made this a signature issue. If you are chosen as the nominee, how do you
bring people together on immigration? Because, whereas in 2016, it was not front
and center on people’s minds, it is now and opinion is extremely divided on how to be
humane but also secure this country’s borders. CASTRO: Yeah, well I would say that the president
used the issue in 2016 to drum up his base, and he believes that he’s going to win by
drumming up that base again on this issue of immigration. What’s different now is that people actually
can see with their own eyes and hear the evidence; I think of the cries of that little girl and
the audiotape that we heard about a year and a half ago crying out for her father. They can see that it’s a disaster. So how do we build unity around a different
approach on immigration? It begins with the fact that this president
has failed. More people are coming to the Southern border
than were coming before he became president. In our name, he has treated kids and their
parents very cruelly. I know a lot of conservatives that don’t feel
good about themselves for that. They don’t feel good about the country for
that, even if they still support this president. So what I would do is to move us forward under
a common-sense approach, and I’ve laid that out. I was the first candidate to put out an immigration
plan that says we can maintain border security but treat people with common sense and compassion
— instead of cruelty — and put undocumented immigrants who are here on a pathway to citizenship. We can stop the wall that a majority of Americans
do not support and instead do things like invest in a 21st century Marshall Plan for
Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala so that people can find safety and opportunity at
home instead of having to make the dangerous journey to the United States. We can respect the land … the ownership
of land down there on the border by ranchers who have been there for generations and also
preserve some of these wildlife areas that Dani is talking about, these environmentally
sensitive areas. And we can also do things like create an independent
immigration judiciary that has enough judges and support staff to actually cycle through
these claims of asylum. GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you say “independent,”
so that it’s not under the auspices of the Justice Department? CASTRO: Yeah. Right now, our immigration courts are under
the Department of Justice control and that means they’re not like most courts that you
deal with that are independent courts. They’re basically administrative courts under
the federal … the executive branch. We need an independent immigration judiciary. I would push for that. GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you talk about securing
the borders, I think this brings us to Dani’s second question. HI: Yeah, I want to touch back on something
in terms of the conversation on border security and common-sense reforms or common sense,
you know, and treating people with compassion. I’m very curious on what that looks like,
you know, for you, because I feel that sometimes when we say, “Oh, we want to treat people
with compassion or common sense,” it feels like people might want to go back to like
the Obama administration and what we were seeing in the Obama administration. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for border
communities. When we see local, you know, DPS troopers
when they stop someone for, you know, not putting their taillight or not putting their
blinker and then they get, they call Border Patrol and a family separated, that doesn’t
make … I don’t think that’s common sense when we have $800 million being thrown into
border security when there are so many other things that that could be invested in throughout
the state and especially in border communities. When we have the National Guard deployed,
but they’re just kind of sitting there, I’ve seen them, they’re sitting in Border Patrol
trucks all day just staring at the Rio Grande. I don’t think that makes sense to me. And those are things that are not new to the
Trump administration. They’ve happened with the Obama administration. And so I want to know where does this conversation
of border security … where does it interest and the wants and the needs of border residents
coming to play? CASTRO: It’s fundamental to the way that we need
to move forward. You’re describing DPS troopers, for instance,
down there in the $800 million that have been spent. That’s been spent by the Greg Abbott administration
here in Texas, the Republican administration. Now with regard to the … yeah I mean the
governor of Texas. They have put an extra $800 million of Texas
money and personnel down on the border and they have been unwilling and/or unable to
actually explain how effective that has been because, as Dani describes, it’s probably
been ineffective. They really hadn’t been doing anything down there. In terms of the Obama administration, you
know, I believe that the Obama administration improved over time with DACA and DAPA and
that perhaps the most instructive thing that the administration did was toward the end
of the administration. It did this family case management program
that essentially was, instead of detaining families, allowed families to stay together
and, oftentimes, they have relatives who live in the United States, go and stay with their
relatives in a safe, loving home and also make sure that they check in for their court
appearances. And it had a phenomenal — over 95 percent
— success rate of getting people to actually return to their court appearances. I believe that we can do those things. We can also demilitarize our border for the
benefit of the people who live down there. GARCIA-NAVARRO: Alston, what are your thoughts
on this. I mean, you are a native San Antonioan, and
obviously the issue of border security and what happens on the border is pertinent to you too. BEINHORN: Yeah, I … livestock grazing operation
is out on the border near Laredo. So I’m quite involved in it. And you know my view is the wall is totally
unfeasible. It’s not going to work. I’m probably one of the few people who’ve
actually flown the border from El Paso all the way down to Boca Chica at a thousand feet
just to look at to see how sustainable it would be to build a wall there because of
the way the river bends and turns and everything like that. You know, immigration is a very important
issue and I think for all the reasons that we’ve been talking about for another reason,
which is that we, this country, needs more laborers that we’re losing them and there
are people who are getting older and don’t want to do the hard work and we need a program
to … it’s not a binary equation if someone’s a citizen or not a citizen to me. There’s a third way which means that, you
know, someone can come in on work permits and get a lifestyle that they deserve and
want and go back to maybe their home countries every year or two then come back and work
more. GARCIA-NAVARRO: So are you saying you wouldn’t
necessarily like undocumented immigrants to have a path to citizenship and there should
be more of a guest worker program? BEINHORN: I think that would be great. I mean, I think the path to citizenship is
not the only solution. I mean, we’ve done that before we did that
in the ’80s. GARCIA-NAVARRO: Under President Reagan. BEINHORN: and I think we … 12 million people. And sure enough, here there’s another 12 million,
you know, so is that what we keep doing? And yes there are good people, great contributors
to society and to their families and they deserve a great life, but I think in the meantime,
we can also have a third way, which is, you know, some sort of visa program for workers. And that’s what they want initially, immediately. And I don’t know how you feel about that. GARCIA-NAVARRO: So how do you feel? Because you’re hearing two sides of the Democratic
Party here pretty clearly. CASTRO: No, and I think right now we have
elements of both of those, right. We have the ability for people to come and
work. We have industries whether it’s agriculture
or construction or the hospitality industry that desperately needs workers right now. They have been hurt by this administration
and how they’ve approached Immigration. I also believe, though, that if somebody comes
in they give their labor that that should count for something in terms of them actually
being able to get on a pathway to citizenship. And so you can have those programs that increase
the labor pool at the same time. You know, I think that ultimately they should
have a pathway to citizenship. I also believe… GARCIA-NAVARRO: But to Alston’s point, 12
million under President Reagan and there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants
here now. For some people, they see this as just a never-ending
flow of immigrants who come here without authorization and that perhaps giving them a pathway to
citizenship will encourage them. CASTRO: I wouldn’t say that it’s never-ending. In fact, you know, if you think about 20 years
ago, the majority of the people who are coming across the border were single Mexican men. Today, instead, they’re people from these
northern triangle countries in Central America. Well, why has that changed? Part of the reason that’s changed is because
people can actually find more opportunity in Mexico than they used to. It’s still unsafe in different parts of the
country, but there is more opportunity there. So if what you… if what somebody is interested
in is what is the best approach so that 144,000 people are not coming to the Southern border,
I think the best approach is actually exactly where Trump has failed, which is that you
need to work with Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala so that people can find safety and
opportunity at home instead of having to make that dangerous journey here. And we will see the numbers of people diminish. At the same time, you know, there’s a way
for all of us to win here. Let me just connect the dots very quickly
as I see it. The Social Security trust fund is in danger. It’s projected the next 15 years to be in
real danger. You have the biggest cohort of people, baby
boomers, who worked and earned their Social Security who are now turning 65 in rapid numbers
and drawing down on that trust fund. At the same time, people have been leaving
the workforce, and we had the lowest birthrate in about 30 years last year. What that adds up to is an aging population
in the United States without a young healthy vibrant workforce to replenish it. We’ve seen what happens in nations like Japan
… GARCIA-NAVARRO: And you’re saying immigration
is the answer to that. CASTRO: Immigration is one part of the answer
to that. Yeah. And… GARCIA-NAVARRO: Does that convince you? BEINHORN: No, I’m all for immigration. I’m just saying that we seem to be stuck on
a path to citizenship and let’s do that, to me. But let’s also, in the meantime, we need help
and workers here immediately. What’s wrong with a guest worker program like
there have been in the past, which were thrown away because they had other issues with them. But the concept is good, to me, to do both. I’m all for citizenship. CASTRO: And I think you know as far as immigration
reform legislation moves through, these are exactly the kinds of things that have been
in the past negotiated — 2013 legislation — and before that. And I do believe that with sound legislation,
we would be able to both meet the needs of the labor force and also ensure that people
can get on a pathway to citizenship after they’ve put in some time doing that. HI: I would like to … I think that the conversation
right around immigrants and their worthiness or their pathway to citizenship papers based
on, you know, whether they’re able to contribute labor. I understand that there are people indeed
that want to come to United States to work, but there are hundreds of thousands of others
that that is not necessarily why they’re coming. And I don’t think that’s also a good metric
to base our policies on, like how much can they contribute, because it’s not “How much
money can they give to our country?” But based on they’re people. And you’re right, a lot of people are coming
from the north and drive … or from Central America. And a lot … if you look at history, right. I think it’s ahistorical to think that they’re
coming based off of like that we don’t have anything to do with it. A lot of it has to do with U.S. imperialism
and their countries, and a lot of them right now are waiting in Matamoros. GARCIA-NAVARRO: You’re talking about the
asylum process. HI: Yes or waiting in Matamoros or in Juárez,
know all across the border. And these are individuals who are asylum-seekers
and because of the remain-in-Mexico policies, they’re waiting there. And it’s become asylum as we know it in the
United States or as the president has said in the past decades has completely been dismantled. There is just no way right now for us to confidently
look at someone and say, “Yes if you follow this process, these steps, then you’re going
to be able to apply for asylum.” There are… I’ve been working with a group right now of
lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and trans people who are from Cuba and different countries
in Central America and they’ve been waiting there for months and because of the so-called
migrant protection protocols on remain-in-Mexico, they, you know, they cross, they were in CBP
custody for a couple of days and they were sent right back. And every single day, they’re terrorized by
homophobia, by trans misogyny, by extortion. You know, they have to bathe in the river. You know, they’re living in tents and we’ve
tried to get some of these folks out of the remain-in-Mexico program. We were attorneys, advocates, community members. We walked with a group across a bridge, and
we presented in front of CBP and we said according to MPP’s own policy, the remain-in-Mexico,
there are supposed to be certain exemptions, which is terrible because a program is bad
for everybody. But, bueno. There are certain exceptions. So we walked with the group across and CBP took
them in. You know Chief Garcia took them into U.S.
custody, and then a couple days later, he sent them right back and he said that, you
know, he sent them back with a little piece of paper that said, “We interviewed you
but you didn’t show enough claim that you’re afraid to be in Mexico.” And I want to know how is being extorted,
having guns pointed to your face, being punched in the face for being a lesbian, you know,
being told that they’re going to kill you because you’re a trans woman. How is that not enough for CBP to cross over
and to know that MPP is bad and to exempt people from it? GARCIA-NAVARRO: So how would you change the
asylum system as it is now? CASTRO: Well immediately I would issue an
executive order ending the Migrant Protection Protocol or remain-in-Mexico policy. Dani is right, I mean there was just an Express-News
article yesterday, San Antonio Express-News, the local newspaper here chronicling that
migrants who in this case were in Retalhuleu have been subject to kidnappings to extortion,
beatings. It’s not, it’s very easy to believe even moreso
if they’re part of the LGBTQ community and they are not granted an exemption which is
supposed to exist under the policy so that they can actually come back and stay in the
United States. It’s a disaster of a policy. It flies in the face of the way that the United
States has honored asylum claims in the past. And I would actually go back to how we used
to do this, which was more effective. GARCIA-NAVARRO: Was it more effective though
because, still, people were waiting for years to see a judge in court? You know there are many stories of people
simply, you know, finding the system too cumbersome, you know, not being able to find a lawyer
to represent them. I mean it is an imperfect system. CASTRO: Well it was more effective than what
we have now, but it does have to be improved. And one of the ways that we can improve it
is to improve our immigration court system so that they have the resources to actually
go through these claims and that we change some of the policy that this administration
has changed, for instance if somebody has been the victim of domestic violence or gang
violence that that does count toward making an asylum claim. There are ways that we can improve it. But the first thing we got to do is end this
remain-in-Mexico policy that is subjecting people who are already desperate to beatings
and extortion and to these drug cartels that are kidnapping them and then getting money
from their relatives in Central America. HI: Secretary Castro, I have to ask you this
because the migrants themselves, they see the news and they see what’s happening and
they saw that in July, Cory Booker visited El Paso and walked 10 of them across the bridge
and they saw that. And when I see them every day, they ask me
who can come and help us. Can you come to Brownsville? Can you come to Matamoros and help them? CASTRO: No, thank you for the question. You know I have had the opportunity now to
go to the Ursula processing center in McAllen to visit Homestead to visit Tornillo and one
of the other facilities, you know, we’ve been trying during this campaign to lift up in
the spotlight the experience of migrants especially the children. And so we’d be glad to see how we can be helpful
in doing that, sure. GARCIA-NAVARRO: We’re going to move to climate
change now and Alston Beinhorn. What would you like to know from Secretary
Castro? BEINHORN: Well you know climate change is
not an immediate issue for a lot of people, apparently but in my business … GARCIA-NAVARRO: Although that’s changing. BEINHORN: Glad to hear it. In my business, being outdoors raising livestock,
you know, what I’ve observed just in the last summer and the summer before that most recently
is that it’s unsustainable. The temperatures that have risen to and in
South Texas near Laredo, when I first started doing this in the mid ’70s I think, in August
of 1976, there was one day when the temperature was above 100 degrees. Just this past August 2019, there was one
day when it, when it wasn’t above 100 degrees and most of the days were 105 to 108 degrees. Anyway, the point is, is that this is unsustainable
for livestock for horses, for chickens, for even for people working outdoors. And I think a lot of people who don’t work
outdoors don’t realize that as much and it’s here now. So my question is, to you, really is how this
is not an easy issue because it involves taking some short-term economic pain right and some
policies that are restrictive in terms of what people can do or should do with the environment
including probably cattle, which are part of the methane problem. How can you as a presidential candidate, if
you were to get the nominee, enlist the support of voters to change their minds to do something
immediately that’s not really in their interest? CASTRO: Well, first of all, thank you for
bringing up this issue Alston, and especially from your perspective, which we don’t hear
enough, as somebody who is in the agriculture industry. But it’s a powerful reminder that in so many
different ways, we have an opportunity to confront this climate crisis. And I put out a plan a few weeks ago on how
I would do that as president beginning with the first day in office recommitting to the
Paris climate accord and then setting a goal of getting to net zero carbon emissions in
the United States by 2045 and leading so the latest we can get there around the world by
2050. We would do that in many different ways, you
know, setting a clean energy standard, a clean transportation standard, incentivizing agriculture
to adopt more environmentally friendly practices, putting in place a carbon fee, and a number
of other steps that would help us get there. The good news is I actually when I get out
there, these days whether it’s in Iowa or here in Texas, there’s, especially among young
people, there’s a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and really resolve to do something about climate
change. So I actually believe that we have a strong
movement there to pressure the politicians in Washington, D.C., especially these folks
that are representing swing congressional districts and swing states. A good example is Colorado. You have a Colorado senator, Cory Gardner,
who’s, who has his re-election this year. I mean people in Colorado, that’s a state
where they care in spades about climate change. So I feel like the next president will have
a good base of support to actually do something and then to address this challenge of “OK,
well are there sacrifices that we need to make?” I actually believe that we can both do right
by our planet and also unleash a clean energy revolution in terms of jobs like a couple
of weeks ago I was in Newton, Iowa, and Newton used to have a Maytag washing machine manufacturing
facility and then it closed, but today there’s a company called TPI that manufactures wind
turbines and I visited TPI. They’re employing several hundred people,
paying decent wages, and, you know, they’re part of this clean energy revolution. GARCIA-NAVARRO: But even with a lot of the
changes that we’re seeing in solar and wind, it cannot in the short term make up for the
traditional sources of energy, and I’m wondering if you see a move to nuclear for example? Are there other places where we should be
looking for energy that might not be coal and oil and gas? CASTRO: Oh absolutely we need to move away
from coal, oil, and gas and phase out nuclear. Nuclear is definitely preferable when it comes
to carbon emissions versus those other three and the way that I think about it is, sort
of this worst-first approach to working on immediately getting the worst of the types
of energy that produces carbon emissions out first. I have set a goal in my plan of getting us
to an electricity sector that is clean renewable and zero emissions by 2035. And, you know, nuclear has a role in that,
but I don’t think that it has the primary role. I think ultimately renewables will have the
primary role. And, in Texas last month, for the first time
ever, more energy was generated in Texas from wind than from coal. So this is already happening and we do need
improvements in things like battery storage for wind and solar. So yes we’re not completely there yet, but
we’re moving there very rapidly. GARCIA-NAVARRO: Secretary Castro signed onto
the Green New Deal. Where are you on that? I mean how do you think it will help you as
a business owner and a rancher? BEINHORN: I have no issue with the Green New
Deal. I think it’s pretty general and it’s not
binding, but I think it’s a path to work toward. But, you know, I think… I mean are you talking about any particular
points of it? GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, no. I’m just wondering what you’re hearing from
Secretary Castro. Is this something that you think will help
you and your concerns? BEINHORN: Sure yeah. And I think, well it’d really help me, I
mean, if you were the Democratic nominee. I think when you just go back in history look
at our most successful best presidents go back to Lincoln maybe or Teddy Roosevelt or
Wilson or FDR, you know, or maybe even Reagan, they had the ability to inspire people to
do things that maybe they didn’t really want to do because it was good for America. And we have that ethic in America that we
have to find it sometimes. You know it’s there somewhere down deep in
us, but we need to have it brought out of us. How would you, as that as the Democratic nominee,
bring that out of people? I guess what I’m talking about is appealing
to their better angels if you know what I mean. CASTRO: No, I think you’re right that it’s
become harder over the years to appeal to this common sense of national purpose and
going in the same direction. But I believe that we can do it. And climate change and immigration are both
good opportunities to do that where people can see a value for all of us as we tackle
the climate crisis in creating jobs and opportunity for millions of people in a clean energy economy,
putting people to work so they can provide for their families when it comes to immigration,
you know, feeling better as a nation morally about how we’re treating human beings. And then also recognizing, as I laid out for
instance with the case for Social Security, that all of us can win if we harness the potential
of immigrants. I think we can find these commonalities in
these issues and seek to bring people together and inspire people around positive change. GARCIA-NAVARRO: I just have a quick question
on something that binds immigration and climate change together, which is in your platform
you say you’d like to create a specific category for climate refugees for asylum-seekers that
potentially could be hundreds of millions of people that will be globally affected by
climate change at a time when the United States will also be dealing with internal displacement
due to climate change, according to scientists’ predictions. That seems to me like a big step. You’re saying that the United States should
open its doors potentially to hundreds of millions of people displaced by climate change? CASTRO: Well, not hundreds of millions of
people … That the United States should be a partner among allies to take in some refugees
who have been displaced by climate change, and it’s true that the United Nations has
estimated that by 2050 up to 200 million people may be displaced around the world because
of climate change. You know, of course the United States is not
going to take in 200 million people, but I believe that we need to step up and take some
of them in right now to give people a sense of scale. We’re taking in less than 30,000 people, refugees,
annually. At the height of the Obama administration,
that was about 110,000 people annually. So I believe that we should increase that. And we can do that and harness the great ability
of refugees to help breathe new life into a lot of American communities out there, small
towns that I’ve been to, different states or add to the life of big cities. We can do this without it … I think only
positively, without in any way jeopardizing the United States. You know we always have to measure how many
people it is that we can’t take in but we should take in. I think we have a, I believe, as I see it,
we have an obligation to play our part to take in some climate refugees and my plan
spells that out. GARCIA-NAVARRO: Just briefly. BEINHORN: Just briefly, taking in refugees
is a great idea, but I think also importantly is: How would you, as president deal with
foreign, you know, other countries who are maybe part of the problem to be to be blunt
about it? I mean when I lived and worked in Singapore
for many years. Right now Singapore is … the air quality
in Singapore, because of the fires in Indonesia, you know, people in Singapore can’t go out
of their houses some days because it’s so bad. Look at Brazil. I mean how would you as president deal with
with our allies and other countries who … they want to get their fair share of economic development
too. You know, we’ve done it in the U.S. 100, 200
years ago. Europe did it three or four hundred years
ago. GARCIA-NAVARRO: America can’t do it alone, so… CASTRO: Well that’s right and that’s why it’s so important that we’re part of the Paris
climate accord and that we’re leading on that. I mean you’re correct that there are countries
whether it’s big countries like China or smaller countries that say: “Hey, what are you talking
about? You know you had the opportunity to develop
using coal and building your economy on that and now we’re just coming up.” And so, of course, the Paris climate accord
does recognize that as well right, there are different standards for different countries,
but they’re even less likely to listen to anything we say if we’re not even part of
that agreement. So the first thing we do is get back into
that and then lead around the world to marshal support for, I believe, even stronger guidelines
for the United States and for other countries. GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lead by example. CASTRO: We need to begin by leading by example
and do what we can also to help to supply them with the necessary tools that they need
and equipment that they need to make that conversion. I would like to see companies like TPI, American
companies that are producing manufacturing wind turbines or doing solar panels or something
else that could be useful as China and India and others convert to renewable energy. I want them selling their products over there. HI: Secretary Castro… GARCIA-NAVARRO: I’m sorry, we’re going to
have to move to some pertinent questions about the situation right now in Washington. Obviously impeachment is the word of the day. There’s an inquiry going on. You came out very early in support of that
inquiry. My question for you is: We know that Vice
President Biden and the allegations against his son Hunter have been reviewed and investigated
and found to be not substantive. However, there are questions about whether
or not the actions of Hunter Biden, and by extension the vice president, were, not to
use another word, swampy… that perhaps his son was trading on the currency of his father. Do you think that needs to be looked into? CASTRO: I believe that Trump is trying to
do to Joe Biden what he did to Hillary Clinton, that he’s trying to take a public servant
that has served honorably over the years and muddy their reputation with false accusations
that, in this case, have been investigated. Throughout my time in public service when
I was in a public service, city council, mayor, at HUD, I always tried to uphold the highest
ethical standard. I would do that as president, but to me, you
know, there are plenty of reasons for people to make a decision in this primary. I hope that in this Democratic primary, they’re
going to do that about the issues. I disagree with Vice President Biden on immigration,
on health care as people saw at the last debate and a number of other issues, but I believe
that he’s fundamentally an honest and honorable man. GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do you think though he might
be fatally flawed now because this has become the central narrative? I mean he, by extension of this investigation
in Washington, is part of that discussion. Do you think he can remain the front-runner
with this controversy surrounding him? CASTRO: I’m going to avoid political punditry. GARCIA-NAVARRO: Oh please. CASTRO: I’ll skip the political punditry. GARCIA-NAVARRO: But I mean it’s obviously
something you’re going to have to think about because you’re running against him. So I’m wondering how you see it playing out. CASTRO: So I hope that he and others, you
know, are not successful because I am, not because Donald Trump tries to get into the
middle of the race and and besmirch people’s reputations. What I see is just a replay. This is the same playbook that Trump used
in 2016. Create this image of a dirty politician, that’s
part of a global elite. That’s what he tried to do to Hillary Clinton. They smeared her all over Facebook and social
media. You had people that constantly saw posts all
the time that had these fantastical notions about what she had done that were completely
untrue. And that’s what they’re trying to do to Joe
Biden. And so I’m going to focus on the disagreements
that I have with, whether it’s Biden or other Democratic candidates, on the issues. And yeah and my hope is that the American
people are going to see the playbook that Trump has engaged in for what it is. GARCIA-NAVARRO: The most recent poll in Nevada
showed not good news for you. You did not have great numbers, in fact close
to 0%. It’s a state with a lot of Latinos. That’s got to hurt to see that you didn’t
do as well as you may have hoped. CASTRO: Well, I mean, I think there haven’t
been that many polls of Nevada. That’s been the problem. One of the problems. As opposed to the other three early states,
Nevada has gotten very little attention. GARCIA-NAVARRO: But is it sending a signal
to you that perhaps it might be time to move on to something else? CASTRO: Not at all. We have four months until Iowa votes and four
and a half months until Nevada caucuses, so we’re gonna keep working hard on this campaign. GARCIA-NAVARRO: I’ll ask you a question that
obviously is asked to Beto O’Rourke and others who are running in states with Senate seats
up for grabs for the Democrats. Obviously, the Senate is enormously important. John Cornyn here of Texas is up for re-election
and many ask, “Why aren’t you running for Senate?” Why are you running for president? CASTRO: Because my experience is actually as a federal executive. I’m one of the few people, I think maybe Joe
Biden, who has actually served as a federal executive. The president is a federal executive. GARCIA-NAVARRO: Would you consider it
though? CASTRO: No, I’m not going to run for Senate. GARCIA-NAVARRO: Under any circumstances? CASTRO: I will not run for Senate. And the good news is that we have talented
women and men who have stepped up, several of whom, if they’re the Democratic nominee,
stand a good chance of beating John Cornyn. And so, you know, they’re in that race and
I applaud them for doing it. In 2014 people wondered whether I was going
to run for governor of Texas and I said that I wasn’t and I didn’t. In 2018, they thought I might run for governor
and I said I wasn’t and I didn’t. I’m telling folks I’m not going to run for
senator and I’m not. GARCIA-NAVARRO: You are also voted the man
most likely to be vice president by some. If indeed you don’t get the nomination, is
that something that you would consider? CASTRO: I …
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. I’m not interviewing for other jobs. But it is important for people to know. CASTRO: I’m running for president and I already
won once through the vice presidential process and it wasn’t my favorite process because
the vice presidential process is unlike any other thing in American politics. Basically, it’s about one person’s decision. What I’ve always enjoyed about public service
and politics is that you get to go out with the people and talk to the people and try
and convince the people. You know, convincing one person and a few
advisers is not what I do. So I’m running for president. GARCIA-NAVARRO: One last question on impeachment:
Do you think it’s the best thing for the country if indeed the House votes to impeach and if
indeed there is a trial in the Senate? Do you think that that is really the best
thing for the country in a year which we’ll see an election? CASTRO: Well I believe the best thing for
the country would be not only impeachment but removal. This president has violated his oath of office. He has abused his power. People can read that in that transcript.
In unprecedented ways, he has used the office of the presidency to
boost himself and put his own self-interest above the national interest. How much more evidence do people need that
this man should not be anywhere near the Oval Office? And I don’t care if you’re a Republican. If you’re a Republican, go find somebody that’s
actually decent and honest and honorable, fine, you know, and has a different point
of view from Democrats, I don’t have a problem with that. What I have a problem with, and I’ve had a
problem with when I was a city councilman and I saw two people taken out of City Hall
in handcuffs or when I was mayor or HUD secretary and we dealt with all types of, you know,
fraud and housing authorities across the United States. What I have a problem with is people — politicians
— who are dishonest who are using that office for their own personal gain and are not there
for the right reasons. You need to get rid of people like that whether
they’re, you know, some politician on the school board, at City Hall, a state legislature,
or even in the Oval Office. Get rid of that guy. GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Thank you so much, Secretary Castro. and thank you so much to our voters: Alston Beinhorn and, of course, Dani Marrero Hi. Thank you both very much. This is Off Script from NPR. I’m Lulu Garcia-Navarro.

17 thoughts on “Julián Castro Talks Climate Change, Immigration With Two Undecided Voters | Off Script | NPR

  1. How many Democratic candidates are there again? How many are using the election as a cynical excuse to get their name recognition up?

  2. "Based on history, we shouldn't change anything" "Based on history we should make a change." The basis of this video. Yes shit sucks south of the border, but if we bring more people here, we will make things worse (south of the border).

  3. You know what my problem with climate change is? Half jazzed journalists,16 year old girls and Castro and AOC are talking about it instead of real scientists!


  5. We live in such a racist country, White people would never be fair and give Castro an opportunity, even though he is the most viable candidate.

  6. When will Democrat Leaders explain how their open border policies will make the United States a safer country for the United States Citizens? In the United States during 2018, ICE officers arrested 80,730 illegal immigrants for DUIs.

  7. climate change is real but it is not how these people paint it. Reduce world population, fight desertification, stop people from cutting more trees, prepare the land for water absorption and plant more trees. The earth is an engine which uses the sun as a power source to keep a stable atmosphere. the excessive amount of people and the improper land management are causing global warming. Stop lying to people.

  8. Country’s in Europe are now paying other countries not to invaded with illegal aliens as a ransom. Like Germany and Turkey.

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