In Democratic circles, Julian Castro was a well-known name even before President Obama tapped him to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development last spring.
The former San Antonio mayor – and identical twin of Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) – catapulted into the national spotlight when he delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. And his name often comes up as a possible contender for a big job under the next Democratic president.
About three months into his time at HUD, Castro refuses to talk about the next job, insisting that he’s focused on the one he’s got. We spoke to the Secretary about his agenda as he gains his footing in Washington. This interview was edited for length and clarity.
Dina ElBoghdady: You’ve said that Hispanics are key to the housing market’s future, which is why the nation needs immigration reform. Please explain the connection between the two and how the president’s decision to delay reform until after Tuesday’s elections might affect the chances of a major overhaul?
Julian Castro: My hope is that the overall housing market will continue to get stronger. The Hispanic community is an important component because it is the fastest-growing segment of the population. [Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies projects that Hispanics will account for 40 percent of total household growth from 2015 t0 2025.] Having sound immigration policy is important because it gives more certainty to the 11 million or so folks who are here, who are undocumented. And if the president and/or Congress are able to provide more certainty, you will see more folks who now are in limbo deciding in the future to actually purchase a home. My hope is that no matter what happens on Tuesday, in short order there will be immigration reform. The president has said very clearly that he’s going to take significant executive action, and my hope is that ultimately Congress will follow suit and pass comprehensive immigration reform within this next term.