Rep. Castro Hopes Immigrant 'Game' 'Isn't a Sign of Things to Come'

Texas Congressman wants GOP to step up on immigration; says Cruz needs strong challenge in 2018.
3:00 | 11/19/13

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Transcript for Rep. Castro Hopes Immigrant 'Game' 'Isn't a Sign of Things to Come'
This is a special group. -- -- -- -- -- company or quit this ABC news digital special report -- game as they called it is off. The young conservatives of Texas group has canceled plans to stage mock immigration stings at the University of Texas at Austin tomorrow. A student organizer Lorenzo Garcia who plan events in which students would win 25 dollar gift cards for. -- other students wearing illegal immigrant pins. Publicize the event on his FaceBook page then canceled it. Amid the backlash. Release a statement today saying he had spoken with chapter members and came away concerned that the university will retaliate against them. And at the protest against the event could create safety issues for volunteers. He said he was quote shocked at the uproar over the events premise that the personal attacks on me. I received emails and comments via social media filled with obscenity. The reactions of some who claim that YCT is creating a demeaning or degrading environment on campus. Have been truly disgraceful. Garcia also said that he hoped the event would lead to serious discussion. About immigration and so we are joined by congressman Joaquin Castro Democrat from Texas he arrived in Washington this here. After a decade the Texas House of Representatives. Congressman thanks for joining us today we appreciate your time. Thank you for having me so when did you first become aware of the -- area the so called game. Well yesterday you know I know that. The young conservatives of Texas sent out a press release describing this game that they were gonna conduct and essentially to every news media I think in Austin. And that was picked up and so I -- -- when everybody else on as -- what was your offices responsiveness. Well we condemn did I think it just as many other folks -- you know I was a student. In California in the 1990s when Pete Wilson put prop 27 on the ballot there and it was so incredibly divisive. Among the people of the state of California. And I see some of the echoes that. In the young conservatives. Move yesterday in also in the direction that the Republicans in Texas are going four of their statewide candidates. -- actually for their candidates for lieutenant governor all of the candidates on the Republican side. Have said that they want to repeal the Texas -- -- for example. So I hope that this is not a sign of things to come. Now organizers here say again that they want -- to inspire discussion and debate but is there -- question of what kind of debate. The -- of that discussion. Given the rhetoric that we've seen both going both ways. Right I don't think you would inspire discussion by inflaming people in that way I think what you end up inspiring is either a lot of hurt feelings. Or a lot of recriminations in the way that he received. Hateful emails and so forth. And -- Texas. Especially the Austin area certainly. On campus as well seen as somewhat of a cross roads of Texas and immigration politics. Can we read anything into this controversy perhaps what it says a bubble size what they're thinking. Well -- Immigration is a very sensitive topic and so you have strong feelings on both sides. And quite frankly there are legitimate arguments on both sides but the west -- the best way to get at that is not to do this ugly kind of game. But to actually sit down and talk about these differences we've been talking about it. A lot this year in in politics unfortunately the US congress has not passed comprehensive immigration reform. But hopefully we'll do that in the coming here -- -- obviously going outside of Texas there has been some optimism earlier this year about talk about a comprehensive immigration reform. Essentially though that has been pretty much shut down Florida senator Marco Rubio backing up a plan -- he once supported. So the question is is there hope then for any real reform anytime soon. I believe that there is you know I was one of the folks that thought that we could get it done this year I think that I've been proven wrong. But I do think that the momentum for immigration reform because it columns from. All quarters of American life from people on the left and the right because the American people overwhelmingly supported. -- Republican majority in speaker Boehner and I say -- very respectfully. But they have to understand that this issue is not gonna go away. That they can't just waited out that the American people know that the immigration system is broken and they're demanding that we -- it's going forward bank if there is an absence of a comprehensive approach favored by Democrats what is the best and that your caucus. Can do in the house right now is a matter of a holding out for mid term elections. Well it's a matter of inside this body holding the leadership's feet to the fire it's a matter of the -- -- American people continuing to speak out. And organize for change. But look you know we prefer a comprehensive approach one big bill. But Republicans have said that they wanna do this piecemeal and even though we don't think that's the best way to do it because all of the parts of immigration are interconnected. What we say is. You know we'll show us what you can do show -- the bills that you can pass so that we can have conference with the senate. And the two chambers Democrats and Republicans can agree on something is switching gears -- ceremony the president was and douse a few weeks ago pushing. For Governor Perry to accept Medicaid expansion money. You spoke on the house floor in late September saying that Obama care the Affordable Care Act would be good for the state of Texas do you still feel that way today. Absolutely. Texas is the state. That has been the shame of the nation when it comes to making health care accessible and affordable for its people. 25% of Texans have no health care coverage 30% of women and 38% of Hispanics in Texas have no health care coverage and the fact that the governor refused to about ninety billion dollars. In in federal resource -- to expand Medicaid to millions of Texas really is unconscionable. Looking and then as -- the politics of these issues is being brought up there that the leader of the YTC Lorenzo Garcia as a fan. -- senator Ted Cruz see them there shaking hands. Have you thought about challenging -- running for senate in 2018. Well you know I didn't. Happy serving San Antonio I just got to the congress in January. But I do think the Democrats and when he eighteen have to put up a strong alternative to Ted Cruz. I think that. His values in what he represents are inconsistent. With Texas and when he thirteen -- certainly will be consistent with Texas and when he only five years away a lot. Think in the meantime congressman -- we appreciate your time worth today -- We're also joined now by Austin based Texas Tribune reporter -- Hamilton and ABC's own -- from Washington thank you guys both for being here. -- of -- are with you because this isn't the first time we've heard from this young conservatives of Texas group. Or what else have they done -- -- -- nationwide attention. Yet they had isn't a series of controversial. Events planned. A lot of them are really designed to distraught tension to. Issues of race on the campus of the University of Texas last month they held -- bake sale where they charged. I'm African American and white Asian and Hispanic students different prices based on their raise. And -- -- women different prices based on their gender and then all of that is really an attempt to get attention and I think that. I Lorenzo Garcia Soviet. Chairman of the script that we are spoke about earlier has basically acknowledge that that's really the goal here for a lot of these about. Slow -- Lorenzo has worked for some prominent Texas politicians notably. Attorney general Greg Abbott what does the attorney general's office have to say about us. The attorney general's -- is pretty quick to call the event repugnant. Repugnant excuse me. And I -- and they also say that he hasn't worked for them in a matter of weeks. But I think -- he just said you know -- -- Richard -- and he did it wasn't paid employee Indiana campaigns at least for awhile. Certainly has some ties to the Republican political machine in Austin. -- let me ask you this -- talked about this with a congressman. Earlier about Austin and this is not my characterization but as you all like to say it's weird. It's a pocket of blue. In deep red Texas DC at that as that sort of microcosm. Of modern American politics. Well especially on this issue it's interesting because I didn't rapidly changing demographics of Texas right taxes -- Increasingly Hispanic every day and it only becoming more so see you see. Issue immigration becomes and -- hot issue. And I think really distinct visions and it -- Are in the Republican Party it's not really Republican democratic and you see the Republican on Republican tension like you see. For example. Don't conservatives coming out of their event and the Abbott can and calling it repugnant. And that's because they need more Hispanic votes they're gonna survive obviously they're very strong right now but looking forward tends when he years. And obviously events like this her. Not we need to attract acts new voters. Abbey we saw that statement from Lorenzo Garcia he is essentially blaming the school -- -- students for intimidating him. And his friends what we heard then from some other groups at least publicly from Mike Young Democrats -- other opponents on campus. There was actually an attempt late yesterday -- some students at the University of Texas -- Organize. A meeting to respond to their -- -- -- on Wednesday it turned out that was necessary because the event was eventually canceled. But I think there was going to be an effort to counter protests and you've seen. The state Democratic Party really pouncing on this news and trying to. Hi this you know young conservative at the University of Texas to the State's Republican Party to the state Republican Party -- Attorney general nominee for governor. But I think that you know you're seeing Democrats across the board all the way to the national -- -- level really take this issue. And and try to -- -- to exploited as much as they Karen. -- it is an issue that's obviously had been put in a very different light that has not been quite cast on it before. -- a little bit more about Austin -- -- it is such a mixed bag of cultural social economic backgrounds. Among UT students -- -- tracks are kind of diversity to campus. Well you're not an obviously in -- UT Austin Carter zone. Suitors is -- -- senators see -- affirmative action approached the -- is being challenged in courts by and I am. You know I think there are it is arguably the best public university in the state and students want to go there I -- I think one of the issues that it is. Event raised is that there are undocumented students on the campus as a result. What is represented -- called the Texas DREAM Act. And that is it was a law that was actually sent my governor Perry's -- strong Republican. Back in 2001. So you do have I mean there's an open door -- -- any all students that we're confident. UT Austin and I think there's sensitivity to -- that they actually need. To get more diversity than they currently. So -- we asked the congressman. If he had -- run for senate in 2018. And of course he is that he was focusing his attention on the house. As most would answer as they had just made their way into that position there but a more media race with national implications Wendy Davis looking to succeed governor Rick Perry where her prospects. I think they're still pretty tough for her out there when you think Wendy Davis. Knows -- she's running an uphill campaign because the state of Texas is really not quite where Democrats want it to be in terms of making it easier for them to take advantage some of some of the demographic changes in the state that could make it more favorable to them but at the same time. If things like this you know Susan. -- -- go working off of some of the national war on women issues. I think that this state Democratic Party really wants to try to take advantage of it as much of this is possible. To help push her forward and I you know I think it's going to be an uphill battle I think they really understand that at this point. -- been right there in the heart of things -- Texas Democrats putting a lot of stock in her campaign. Yeah -- note Democrat has. One statewide office in two decades and taxes so any race is going to be a long shot until it finally happens and we've heard previous candidates were sort of going to be the superhero -- comes in and saves it from Democrats and now all of that is on Wendy Davis and we'll see what happens -- -- think. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- An uphill battle but of course all eyes will be on that battle read -- militant for the Texas Tribune ABC's -- -- both the -- thank you very much for that. A complete report right here on For -- -- down Cutler in New York with this ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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