Rosie Castro raised her twins, Julian and Joaquin, in an environment steeped in Chicano nationalism and a radicalism that was far out of mainstream American politics. Decades later, both Julian and Joaquin are rising young stars within the Democratic party.
Julian, who is older than his twin by a second, is a potential presidential candidate, a former mayor of San Antonio (The 7th largest city in the country), as well as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development. (RELATED: HHS Lost Track Of Nearly 1,500 Illegal Immigrant Children Last Year)
The younger twin, Joaquin, has an impressive political resume as well, having served as a Texas state representative from 2003 to 2013, at which point he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he continues to serve. He is also the campaign chairman for his brother’s presidential run.
They each have an impeccable academic record. In 1996, they graduated together from Stanford and both went to Harvard Law School.
Julian and Joaquin both first ran for an elected office while still in Stanford when they both ran for, and won, a seat on the student senate. However, their political upbringing goes back much further than just Stanford. Julian and Joaquin grew up in an environment that was thoroughly saturated in the ideals of the Chicano political movement.
Rosie Castro is Julian and Joaquin’s mother and has a political legacy of her own that stretches back decades. She too was involved in politics from the time she was in undergraduate onwards. At school she organized a chapter of the Young Democrats, and, in order to obtain funding for the Young Democrats, had to help organize the Young Republicans as well.
The Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida, also known as either La Raza or The Raza Unida Party (RUP), is known in English as “The National Race United Party.” The party was active during the 1970s and while it was primarily focused in Texas, it had an impact on other southwestern states. It was founded in 1970 by Jose Angel Gutierrez and Mario Compean. Rose Castro was heavily involved in the party, at one point running for a position on the San Antonio City Council as a La Raza candidate.
RUP can be considered a product of the growth of the Chicano movement of the 1960s. RUP has been described as a radical group, due at least in part to the statements of one of their founders. Gutierrez has made statements that could be both be perceived as racist and also as implying that violence could be justified. These statements include “We have got to eliminate the gringo, and what I mean by that is if the worst comes to the worst, we have got to kill him,” and “Kill the gringo. What I mean is we must kill the gringo economically and politically but not necessarily physically unless, of course, the worst comes to the worst.”
Gutierrez has voiced his support for the separation of the Southwest from the United States, premised on their belief in a possibly mythical area called “Aztlan.” Some believe that Aztlan is the ancestral home of the Aztec people. In Gutierrez’s words on Aztlan, “To me it’s a dream. It’s a vision. It’s an extraordinary goal that we pursued during the times of activism that I was involved in.” Gutierrez also voiced his support for reattaching this so called “Aztlan” to Mexico, “Aztlan is one half of the one Mexico that we need to build. This is the Mexico on the other side north of the Rio Grande, El Rio Bravo … So our movement then, has everything to do with the Mexico that exists. And that is, to make it bigger, to return it to its original homeland size.”
This radical, separatist and apparently militant stance that Gutierrez has taken and said was “part of our movement,” can be attributed to many of the larger, more political Chicano-inspired movements that were becoming more popular and widespread in the 1960s and ‘70s. It was this environment and political movement that Rosie Castro was heavily involved in during the 1970s and in which she raised both of her boys.
Rosie Castro was a supporter of the movement to free Angela Davis, who was a registered member of the Communist party in America. While no legal proceedings ever happened, Castro’s support of Angela Davis was vocal enough to get her noticed by the FBI, who kept a file on her.
Julian and Joaquin were thrown into the political world from as early as five years old. “[W]hen Joaquin and I were around five they started taking us to these meetings, which blended activism and partying. They drank and laughed and organized rallies and voter registration drives,” Julian Castro wrote in his memoir, “An Unlikely Journey.”
However, the brothers were not just in attendance at these events, Rosie Castro made certain she instilled in her children the importance of being politically active, Julian said that “from an early age, Joaquin and I were taught the importance of political engagement, and we attended rallies and were even pictured in some of the campaign literature.”
It appears that at least some of the lessons that Julian Castro absorbed in his youth have remained with him. During the recent Democratic party presidential debates, Castro called for decriminalizing illegal border crossings, which would reduce illegal border crossings to a civil offense, hardly more serious than a parking ticket.
“My plan also includes getting rid of section 1325 of the immigration and nationality act, to go back to the way we used to treat this, when somebody comes across the border, not to criminalize desperation to treat that as a civil violation,” he said.
Joaquin, while he hasn’t spoken openly for open borders, has filed a bill in the House that would replace the phrase “illegal alien,” with “foreign national,” because, “the word ‘illegal alien’ has taken on its own life, and people use it as a slur now.”