Rep. Joaquin Castro On Trump's Border Emergency Declaration | Connecticut Public Radio
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Rep. Joaquin Castro On Trump's Border Emergency Declaration

Feb 24, 2019
Originally published on February 24, 2019 11:46 am
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Let's turn now to Congress and a Democratic member there. He is Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas, and he joins us now on the line.

Congressman, good morning.

JOAQUIN CASTRO: Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'd like to start with Venezuela. As you just heard, it's a very tense situation there in a part of the world where the U.S. doesn't have a lot of goodwill to expend. Is this administration doing the right thing, in your view, in trying to directly influence Venezuelan affairs?

CASTRO: I think the administration has to be careful not to be too heavy-handed given the United States' involvement in Latin America in the past. Ultimately, the people of Venezuela have to be able to choose who their leader is. But I think there's two things that need to happen immediately. First, we need to make sure that that humanitarian aid gets into the country because there's so many people who are starving and suffering. The second thing is that the United States Congress should move right away and the president should move right away to offer temporary protected status to the people of Venezuela to be able to come here to the United States at least temporarily if they need to.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What is your reaction, though, to Secretary of State Pompeo's tweet last night that the U.S. will take action? There is a lot of ambivalence among Democrats about intervention.

CASTRO: That's right. I hope that he doesn't mean military action. In fact, I'm on the foreign affairs committee. We just had Elliott Abrams, who's a special representative for Venezuela, testify about a week-and-a-half ago. And he didn't give any indication that military action was imminent. That said, I think we've got to get with the Lima Group, with OAS, with the United Nations to make sure that that aid gets in and that elections are held as soon as possible.

You know, I was one of the folks that has supported sanctions against the Maduro regime in the past. So you know, most folks would be fine if Maduro left. I think people want change. But we also have to be careful to make sure that it's the Venezuelan people who are choosing their new leader.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let's turn to something that you're sponsoring. The president declared a national emergency on the southern border over a week ago. You've introduced a resolution to terminate that declaration, which will get a vote on Tuesday. Does it have any chance in the Senate?

CASTRO: (Laughter) Well, it should pass the House of Representatives. We have probably about 228 folks supporting it now, including a Republican.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But just one Republican.

CASTRO: That's right. We have Justin Amash of Michigan. And our appeal has been very bipartisan. We've made it an issue about the fact that the president is trying to usurp the power of Congress. The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse. And the president asked Mexico to pay for this wall; they wouldn't. Congress wouldn't pay for the wall. And now he's trying to unilaterally take the money, billions of it, from military construction funds. And so in communities like mine of San Antonio, which is Military City, USA, that's a big problem. But you asked the question about the Senate. I think that we can get three more votes that we need to pass it in the Senate and then send it to the president's desk. Obviously, that's going to take a lot of work.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: President Trump has promised to veto.

CASTRO: Yeah. No, there's no question. There's no guarantee here. It's an uphill battle. But as I said when this started, if he declares a national emergency just to build a border wall that he said Mexico would pay for, we're going to fight him in Congress. We're going to fight him in the courts. And I believe that a large segment of the American public will fight the president on this.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Representative Castro, if the president vetoes it - if it doesn't pass in the Senate, it seems like this is simply an action - like, a protest vote, if you will. Is relying on the courts so heavily really the way you as a Democrat want to advance your ideas?

CASTRO: Well, I think that it's an approach from different angles. Right? It's an approach in Congress, trying to pass legislation. And then you Xavier Becerra and 16 other attorneys general in other states who have filed suit. So yeah, I mean, we fundamentally disagree with a president doing something that no president has ever done before, which is to call a national emergency to try to deliver on a campaign promise that he said another country was going to pay for it. Nobody's ever done that before. So yes, we're going to do everything that we can in Congress and in the courts. And I hope that the American people continue to speak up.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas, thank you so much.

CASTRO: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARLEY CARROLL'S "FIRST THOUGHT, BEST THOUGHT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.