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Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro suspended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

After Year-Long Run as Outspoken Advocate for Immigrants and the Poor, Julián Castro Suspends Presidential Campaign

"We've shaped the conversation on so many important issues in this race, stood up for the most vulnerable people, and given a voice to those who are often forgotten."

Julia Conley, staff writer

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro announced Thursday he was suspending his presidential campaign—pledging to continue fighting for working people, immigrants' rights, and to combat wealth inequality.

The Texas Democrat posted a video on Twitter thanking his campaign staff, volunteers, and supporters, and announcing that he's "determined that it simply isn't our time."

"We've shaped the conversation on so many important issues in this race, stood up for the most vulnerable people, and given a voice to those who are often forgotten," Castro said in the video. "It's with a heavy heart and profound gratitude that I will suspend my campaign for president."

Although Castro failed to break through into the top tier of candidates, generally polling in the low single digits, he was recognized for centering working families, Americans living in poverty, and a number of progressive policy proposals throughout his campaign.

Castro began his campaign in January 2019 with a call for universal pre-kindergarten, which he enacted in San Antonio during his time as mayor of the city, and later put forward a plan to end hunger.

"In our politics today, we've forgotten to talk about the poor as intently as we've fought for the middle class," Castro told the New York Times. "We are focusing on the most vulnerable, the most forgotten, the people who need others fighting for them."

During his campaign, Castro met with marginalized people in a number of settings—speaking with inmates at a jail in Washington, D.C. about criminal justice reform, visiting people living in a homeless encampment in Oakland, and accompanying a refugee to a check-in at an ICE facility.

Castro sparred with some of his opponents over immigrants' rights, notably telling former Vice President Joe Biden that Biden hadn't "learned the lessons of the past" at the July Democratic primary debate after Biden said immigrants could still be deported under his hypothetical administration for crossing the border.

He also challenged Beto O'Rourke after the former congressman said he would not decriminalize border crossings by eliminating Title 8, Section 1325 of the U.S. federal code, a proposal Castro pushed.

"I think it's a mistake, Beto, and I think if you truly want to change the system, then we got to repeal that section," Castro said on the debate stage in June.

Castro frequently spoke about black and Hispanic Americans killed by police officers and criticized the Democratic primary process, particularly the fact that Democrats in the largely-white states of Iowa and New Hampshire are the first to vote for their preferred nominee.

"We can’t go around thanking black women for powering Democrats to victory all over the country, and then at the same time hold our first caucus and our first primary in states that have almost no African-Americans," Castro told Vogue. "We're right to call Republicans out when they suppress the votes of African-Americans or Latinos, but we've also got to recognize that this 50-year-old process was created during a time when minority voices had zero power in the party."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), one of Castro's opponents, was among progressives offering praise to the former candidate on Thursday.

Grassroots groups including Move On and Indivisible also applauded Castro for centering "structural inequality" and working people in his campaign.

"Julián Castro changed the shape of this race by running a people-first campaign," tweeted Indivisible. "From his plan to fix our immigration system to tackling climate change, he made sure to lead with a moral voice and grassroots vision."

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