Beto O'Rourke Kicks Off 2020 Campaign With Speech In El Paso: Immigration Makes America Safer


Beto O'Rourke officially launched his presidential campaign Saturday, heavily focusing on a Texas narrative that he's used to rise from El Paso council member to Senate candidate to contender in the Democratic race for the White House. From his El Paso hometown, O'Rourke drew a stark contrast with President Donald Trump, telling Americans that the nation can do better on many fronts, including developing a compassionate immigration system that secures the border.

BETO O'ROURKE: This is a campaign for America, for everyone in America. Like so many of you here, like so many more across the country at this defining moment, Amy and I want to know that we've done everything within our power for this country. Though we know it comes at some sacrifice to our family, especially to our kids, we also know that our children and that your children and the generations that follow them are depending on us now at this moment. This is our moment of truth. This is our moment of truth and we cannot be found wanting. The challenges before us are the greatest of our lifetimes.

An economy that works too well for too few and not at all for too many more, a health care system where millions are unable to see a doctor or be well enough to live to their full potential, and the last best hope of averting a catastrophe that will follow additional climate change fading before our very inaction, we must overcome these challenges, but we must first ask ourselves how this, the wealthiest, the most powerful country on the face of the planet, the most powerful country that world history has ever known, has found itself in such a perilous position.

For too long in this country, the powerful have maintained their privilege at the expense of the powerless. They have used-they have used fear and division in the same way that our current president uses fear and division.

Based on the differences between us of race, ethnicity, geography or religion to keep us apart, to make us angry, to make us afraid of ourselves and of one another. Unrestrained money and influence has warped the priorities of this country. It has corrupted our democracy. It has invited the cynicism and the distrust and the disengagement of millions of our fellow Americans who see their very own government enthralled to those who can pay for access and for outcomes. A vigorous democracy, both political and economic, is the only check against this inertia of power, the only way to free our institutions of their capture and corruption and the only means by which we can lift the voices and the lives of our fellow Americans.

But when - but when the safeguards of this democracy are manipulated by those in power, when members of Congress can choose their own voters, when the supreme court decides that corporations are people and money is speech, when pacts and special interests can buy the outcomes of elections and legislation and when voting rights are not expanded, they are functionally withdrawn, then we run the risk of becoming a democracy in name only. And the idea that we are founded on the principle that we are all created equal, to equal opportunity is justifiably seen as a lie to those who have experienced gross differences in opportunity and outcome when it comes to education or health care or economic advancement or justice.

So, whatever our differences, where you live, who you love, to whom you pray, for whom you voted in the last election, let those differences not define us or divide us at this moment. Let's agree going forward before we are anything else, we are Americans first...

And if we truly believe that we are a country of immigrants and asylum seekers and refugees and they are the very premise of our strength, of our success, and, yes, our security, then let us free every single Dreamer from any fear of deportation.

Let's bring millions more out of the shadows an onto a path to contribute to their maximum potential to the success of this country. Let's not only -- let's not only follow this country's asylum laws but let's make sure that we never take another child from another mother at their most desperate and vulnerable moment. Let us reunite every single one of those families that are still separated today, and let's remember that every single one of us, including those who are just three or four blocks from here, detained under the international bridge that connects us with Mexico behind chain link fence and barbed wire, that they are our fellow human beings and deserve to be treated like our fellow human beings.

CROWD CHANT: Beto. Beto. Beto. Beto. Beto. Beto. Beto. Beto

O'ROURKE: We will find security not through walls, not through militarization. We will find security by focusing on our ports of entry that connect us to the rest of the world so we have a better idea of who and what is coming in here and we facilitate the trade and travel connected to millions of jobs around this country. We will support our CBP officers, our border patrol agents. We will treat every single American with the dignity and respect that they are owed as Americans and as human beings, and if we are really serious about security, we have a golden opportunity, Republicans, independents, Democrats alike, to work on comprehensive immigration reform to rewrite this country's immigration laws in our own image with our own values and in the best traditions of the United States of America.

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