Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’RourkeBeto O’RourkeBiden will help close out Texas Democrats’ virtual convention: report O’Rourke on Texas reopening: ‘Dangerous, dumb and weak’ Parties gear up for battle over Texas state House MORE called his hometown of El Paso, Texas, the “Ellis Island of today” in a new op-ed.
“We are the largest binational community in the Western Hemisphere, the place where millions of people who become Americans first set foot in our country. A quarter of our neighbors were born in another country,” O’Rourke wrote in the CNN op-ed.
“Every day, we are made stronger — and yes, safer — by the immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers who make us so proud to call El Paso our home,” he added.
O’Rourke wrote that the Trump administration’s immigration and border policies are making us “a nation defined by cruelty,” noting reports of squalid conditions in immigrant detention centers and the seven children who have died in U.S. custody.
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O’Rourke wrote he would take executive action his first day in the Oval Office if elected president to release “those who pose no threat to our communities” from detention as well as rescinding recent Trump administration travel and asylum restrictions and reunite all families separated at the border.
“We will do all of that while still respecting the fact that we are a country with borders. That means preserving tools that allow us to go after smugglers and traffickers—because that will make everyone who lives in America safer, including immigrants,” O’Rourke wrote.
The former congressman clashed with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro at the first Democratic presidential debates over Castro’s proposal to decriminalize crossing the border, with O’Rourke arguing it could shield human traffickers from prosecution.