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Surrogates For Elizabeth Warren Hold Latino Outreach Tour In Texas

While Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren campaigns in early primary states, her surrogates in Texas continued a Latino community engagement tour. Dozens of people have turned out for events in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley.

The campaign said the tour is intended to cut through the noise of social media and to reach out and listen directly to the community.

To kick off the community forum portion of the event in San Antonio on Monday, Maria Martinez, the campaign’s National Latinx Engagement Director, shared her parents' story. They immigrated in the 1980s. They sought legal status in 2004, Martinez said, and they were eventually added to a deportation list.

“It wasn’t until Trump was elected into office in 2016 that my parents were deported to Mexico,” she said.

Her father died in Mexico seven months after being deported. He suffered from a stroke and didn’t have access to medical care. Her mother remains in Mexico and is barred from reentering the U.S. for ten years.

The Monday night crowd shared similar stories. One Warren supporter said he arrived home as a 13-year-old to find his mother deported.

“At the time, I didn’t know what to think about it,” he said. “I left home that morning. My mom was there. I came back, and she wasn’t there.”

Civil rights activist Rosie Castro headlined the community forum-style event. She said all of Warren’s policies will help Latino communities.

“For example, the non-criminalization of immigration, all her financial plans, the wealth tax, the health care plans, her plans dealing with childcare, education and being able to do away with debt,” Castro said. “All of those things are issues that are near and dear for the Latino community.”

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Credit Dominic Anthony | Texas Public Radio
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An attendee shared her experience with Warren staff and surrogates.

When asked about the difference between Warren and Sanders — both of whom are further out on the progressive wing of the party than the rest of the Democratic field — Castro brought the conversation back to identity.

“One of the things I mentioned earlier, for me, that's very important is that this country has never had a woman president,” she said. “And it's about time that we do.”

San Antonio District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales echoed that sentiment. “I want to see a woman president,” she said. Gonzales said Warren’s policies — especially those related to health care — will help Latino communities and women.

According to her campaign website, Warren hopes to transition from a public option to mandatory Medicare For All by her third year in office, if elected.

Gonzales also attributed her support to Julián Castro, the former San Antonio mayor, HUD secretary and presidential contender. He and his twin brother, U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro, have both endorsed Warren.

While Rosie Castro raised Julián and Joaquin and fought for civil rights in the latter half of the last century, Warren was a Republican. Castro said that background doesn’t sway her. “People change. People grow. People can't be the same things all the time,” she said. “So I think that doesn't bother me at all. I think we're looking at the present.”

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Credit Dominic Anthony | Texas Public Radio
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An attendee shared his experience with the Warren staff.

She also mentioned Warren’s authenticity and her plans to help families financially.

David James, an undecided voter, said his top concern is a candidate's ability to govern — especially if Republicans maintain control of the Senate. “That is the stumbling block before her,” he said. “Even if she gets into office, how effective can she be without any kind of Senate backing?”

He remained on the fence after the event but said Warren is currently his top choice because, he said, she could handle a Republican-controlled Senate more effectively than the other Democratic contenders. “I think Sen. Warren is probably in the best position to deal with it,” he said.

The tour then moved into the Rio Grande Valley. On Wednesday, comedian, author and Valley native Cristela Alonzo championed Warren to a crowd of voters.

Cesar Barrera, an 18 year-old high school student in Mission, said he stopped by the Warren event with other friends who said they would cast their first voters ever in the 2020 election.

He added that his federal government teacher encouraged him to attend the event. He’s undecided about who he’ll vote for, but says it’s between Warren and Bernie Sanders.

“Their plans are very similar in a sense of what they’re trying to do, especially for the education field," he said. "That’s where I’m mostly focused on and the environment, but because education I don’t want to be in student debt because ... who wants that? And I like how they’re trying to get rid of it for most.”

The Warren campaign’s Latino engagement tour planned to also visit Corpus Christi and Houston.

Dominic Anthony can be reached at Dominic@TPR.org and on Instagram at @Dominic_Anthony_Walsh.
Reynaldo Leaños Jr. can be reached at Reynaldo@TPR.org and on Twitter at @ReynaldoLeanos