Column: De León embodied the American dream. After racist audio leak, he’s living a political nightmare
TIJUANA, Mexico — He says he has no choice, he says he is being forced out of the United States by racism: “We have a duty to protect the rights of our children,” Óscar De León says. “My son is in Los Angeles. He’s doing a great job.”
Yet, De León’s son, whom he never met, is under strict protection by the U.S. Border Patrol. A man he thought he knew, he now knows, has been killed, and his body is rotting before his eyes. And he is fleeing because of threats, not because he is a lawbreaker.
His political career was interrupted by his 2016 presidential campaign, when he won the Green Party’s presidential nomination, but when the party’s primary ended he didn’t see any way to win the general election.
Instead, he fled with his daughter to Mexico, to the Tijuana border city, where he has been living since shortly after the border. He has since taken refuge in the United States.
But he is coming to understand that to remain, he will need to change. And that time may be running out.
De León is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas. He is now serving as the vice presidential candidate in the July presidential election, making him arguably the most powerful political figure in Mexico.
De León says he knows Trump will be the next president of the United States, and he is looking forward to his victory in the presidential race. But he says he is running in the opposite direction to Trump, a Democrat, because of his “reluctance to see a racist America.”
His words offer a rare glimpse into a man who has spent much of his life living in a border country where he believes in immigration. The majority of his adult life, he says, has been spent in Mexico, and he has been proud to fight for the rights of