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Aliens and jobs: what will Castillo do? Chr is Strac hw itz Mr. Castillo goes to Washington Houston It’s not Austin, and it’s certainly not the governor’s mansion, but Leonel Castillo thinks he’ll like Washington just fine. Castillo, the 37-year-old Houston city controller, is President Carter’s choice to head the Immigration and Naturalization Service. If Castillo is confirmed by the Senate after hearings scheduled for the third week of April, he would become. the first Mexican-American chief of the controversial agency. The nation’s immigration policies are under scrutiny on Capitol Hill and labor leaders are nervous about the effect of illegal aliens on the jobless rate, but Castillo’s nomination is not expected to draw much fire. That says something about Leonel Castillo. Even his few critics praise him. The only organized opposition to his appointment comes from a group of Harris County union officials. But Don Horn, executive secretary of the county’s AFL-CIO, says that while local labor leaders want Castillo to take a harder line with illegal aliens than he has seemed willing to, they nevertheless feel “Leonel possibly is the best choice by the Carter administration for INS.” Castillo, however, is a bit bewildered by his nomination. “I had been offered the chance to be considered for a variety of positions in the new administration,” he explains, “but, in all of them, I would have been deeply involved in the financial administration of big government agencies.” Castillo says he turned down such offers because, after six years as city controller, he was “tired of finances and impatient to get involved in real issues.” While Castillo realizes that Carter may have offered him the INS spot to ap 10 The Texas Observer By Wade Roberts pease the nation’s Hispanic leaders many of whom, led by Castillo, have charged that the president has not lived up to his promises to appoint more Mexican-Americans to high office he would like to feel there were other considerations involved in his selection. Still, he doesn’t overlook the obvious links between the minority appointment demands and his nomination; Castillo met with administration officials several times to discuss appointments of Mexican-Americans in the months before he himself was under consideration for a Washington job. Political pluses Says Castillo: “I was probably an easy choice for them I was a known quantity politically, and I had a proven track record as an administrator of the finances of one of the few big cities in good financial shape. And then, they obviously felt I offered them good inroads into the minority community. All of those qualifications a background in politics, a record as an effective adminis trator, and my links to minorities they all added up to pluses.” But Carter, Atty. Gen. GriffinBell,and other administration officials may be getting a little more than they bargained for. A large part of Castillo’s appeal to Houston voters he was elected in his first political contest in 1971 over longtime Controller Roy Oakes and then handily returned to office in 1973 and 1975 lies in his willingness to stand up to other public officials. His political stock among Houston’s blacks, browns and white liberals soared last year when he refused to release city funds for several programs, including a police-cadet training class, until Mayor Fred Hofheinz produced, and city council approved, a long-delayed city budget. Castillo rode the controller’s office, once a low-profile, politically nonpartisan post, into the public spotlight. Soon after taking office, he began a series of special audits that disclosed that many of Houston’s wealthiest physicians and attorneys were successfully evading city