Julián Castro: Trump ‘failed the people of Puerto Rico’

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro on Monday panned the Trump administration’s response to Hurricane Maria, saying it had failed Puerto Rico’s citizens.
“Unfortunately, as all of us witnessed, the Trump administration failed the people of Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria hit,” Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary who announced a presidential bid over the weekend, said at the annual Latino Victory Fund (LVF) summit.
Castro picked Puerto Rico as his first destination as a presidential candidate, after making his initial campaign announcement in his hometown of San Antonio on Saturday.
{mosads}”I chose as my first visit after [my] announcement to come to Puerto Rico, because I want all the people of Puerto Rico to know that you count, that we respect you,” said Castro.
Castro’s audience included about a dozen members of Congress, part of a 36-member delegation to the territory for the annual convention of Bold PAC — the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) campaign arm — and a convention organized by LVF, a progressive political organization dedicated to increasing Hispanic political participation.
Castro, the twin brother of CHC Chairman Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), told members that as Housing and Urban Development secretary he headed disaster recovery work in places like Louisiana, Texas, New Jersey and New York.
He said disaster recovery work requires “an administration determined to get results.”
But Castro accused the Trump administration of distracting from disaster recovery to further its political goals.
“Just the other day the president and his administration talked about taking money earmarked for Puerto Rico recovery and instead investing in [a border wall],” said Castro.
“To do so is completely objectionable, immoral and should never happen,” he added.
President Trump has discussed the possibility of declaring an emergency to circumvent Congress and build his wall on the border. A fight over the issue has led to a partial government shutdown — the longest in U.S. history.
If Trump declared an emergency, the administration would look for other money to pay for the wall, though it is not clear it would come from unspent funds in a disaster bill approved by Congress.
Congress has appropriated over $18 billion for disaster recovery funds managed by Housing and Urban Development, but only about $2.6 billion have made it to the island.
Castro said that, if elected president, he “will work each and every day to make sure you will recover and thrive, to make sure you are respected and know you count.”
After his remarks, Castro left to tour social and redevelopment projects with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz (D) and former Speaker of the New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito (D). 
Tags Appropriations Border wall Budget Donald Trump Joaquin Castro Puerto Rico Shutdown
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