Castro discusses SB4, ongoing Russia probe

As the debate over SB 4 continues, a prominent lawmaker is making his voice heard.

Congressman Joaquin Castro met with the Texas Tribune and a group of supporters Wednesday morning at The Austin Club for a wide-ranging discussion on a number of topics. 

First - his thoughts on the Texas Legislature this session.

"It was obviously a very tough legislative session. I think that legislation like SB4 really takes Texas down an ugly path. I still don't believe that in the budget that (Gov.) Greg Abbott, and (Speaker of the House) Joe Straus, and Lieutenant Governor (Dan Patrick) did enough to support the children of Texas. Texas has unfortunately become the shame of the country with sex trafficking, foster care children sleeping in state offices, and child abuse. And I still don't think what was done in the budget is enough. And so in many ways, they left a lot of big things on the table, and we'll see where it goes from here," explained Castro. 

Castro has been an outspoken critic of Senate Bill 4.

That legislation would require all Texas law enforcement honor ICE detainers -- which are requests to hold someone in jail while their immigration status is investigated. 
 
It also would allow officers to question an individual's immigration status if they are detained -- which includes being pulled over for a traffic violation. 
 
Back in February, following a series of ICE raids throughout Central Texas, Castro directly reached out to ICE to learn more about their investigation.
 
He shared his thoughts on its potential passage. 

"I hope they'll see that if SB 4 does become law, that it's the wrong law for the state of Texas. That it's probably going to be profiling people that even US citizens and legal residents are going to be asked about their citizenship status, and so you know - it's unfortunate that it's going to take two years to figure that out, but I think we're going to see that," Castro said. 

Earlier this year, Castro announced he would not challenge Ted Cruz in the 2018 Senate race. While he has not outright endorsed fellow Democrat Rep. Beto O'Rourke in the race yet, he did voice his support. 

"I'm going to be helpful to him," said Castro.  "First, I'd like to stand with Beto and endorse him at the right time.  I intend to be helpful," said Castro. 

Castro provided analysis on President Trump's first overseas trips. 

"Part of that (trip) included meeting with many European leaders.  During the course of the campaign, he talked about how NATO was obsolete, but after he became President he seemed to suggest it's not obsolete anymore.  He's berated Germany and other countries for not paying their fair share. So now, what you're starting to see is these European leaders standing up and not taking it," said Castro. 

Part of the reason Castro provided for not challenging Sen. Cruz was his current role on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. 

"I think this is an all-hands on deck situation. I think this is a situation of such importance to the nation that the more people you have looking at it, the better," said Castro. 

He voiced his support for a Special Counsel to investigate possible collusion between Russian officials and President Trump's campaign during the 2016 election.

"The Special Counsel, like the Congressional Committees can do fact-finding, figure out what happened. Also, figure out if any Americans coordinated with the Russians who interfered with our election. Also, the Special Counsel can do something that the Congressional Committees can't. If anybody violated or broke the law, that person, Bob Mueller, can prosecute them for their crimes," said Castro. 

Mueller, who previously served as FBI Director, was appointed Special Counsel overseeing the Russia probe earlier this month. 

"Hopefully, the investigation won't become tainted.  Nobody will be playing any type of games with it. The two can co-exist - the Special Counsel and the Congressional Committees.  A lot of the work that they'll do will be overlapping, because the Special Counsel has to do some fact-finding to figure out what happened - the Congressional Committee, the same thing.  But they can work in concert, and make sure they don't step on each other's toes so to speak," said Castro, who said the investigation would likely take several months. 

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