Castor weighs in on DACA, the wall, Charlottesville

While she was there to honor local immigrants, last weekend's events were front-and-center.

click to enlarge U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa) on Tuesday night. - Terrence Smith
Terrence Smith
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa) on Tuesday night.
Home from Washington for Congressional recess, Representative Kathy Castor spent part of Tuesday night at Alonso High School, holding not only a town hall but also the first edition of her American Dream Awards, an event honoring immigrants in her district that have made an impact.

Those included were Victor Fernandez, who served as a principal at Pierce Middle School and Leto High School; Maria Jimenez, who worked with Covering Tampa Bay as part of the healthcare rollout in the Latino community; Carlos Jose Peralta, a media personality in Spanish-speaking radio and television and Roberto Torres, and entrepreneur who is the owner of the Blind Tiger Cafe and Black & Denim Apparel Company. Castor also made a surprise addition to the honorees to include Tery Sanchez, her own constituent services director, who she has worked with for more than a decade.

The event was symbolically held on the fifth anniversary of President Obama's signature of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an immigration policy that allows undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minor some leeway and the opportunity to gain a work permit. The future of the policy remains uncertain under the Trump administration, with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton having given the president a deadline of September 5 to rescind it before he and nine other state attorneys general take it to court.

Castor lent her support to Senator John McCain's plan to revive bipartisan efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate.

“I know it seems farther away than ever with the group in charge in Washington right now, but you saw what advocacy could do when it came to protecting affordable healthcare,” said Castor. “Why not immigration?”

Castor also criticized the continued efforts to make Trump's notorious wall a reality, confident that the $1.6 billion appropriated for it wouldn't muster the 60 votes to pass the Senate.

“What if we took that money and invested it in what makes folks really safe, and we targeted criminals and those breaking the law?” said Castor. “That's what needs to happen rather than this wasteful spending.”

The intention of the Town Hall portion of the evening was supposed to focus on immigration, with Castor joined by representatives from For Our Future and Mi Familia Vota to assist with questions. Yet questions broached a variety of different topics from local transportation to Donald Trump being potentially impeached.

The dominating national topic of Charlottesville could not be ignored and Castor opened with reference to it, citing the weekend's violence as direct opposite of the celebration of immigrant contributions she was highlighting that evening.

Earlier in the week Castor spoke on Tampa's own Confederate monument, and called on the Hillsborough County Commission to move it immediately instead of waiting for outside funding.

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