Standing at the center of a cheering crowd in La Villita on Sunday evening, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Beto O’Rourke decried the recent immigration-related political stunts by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as “cruel,” saying these actions are “not who we are in Texas.”
O’Rourke was in San Antonio on Sunday as the final stop of a two-day campaign tour styled the “Juntos Se Puede” (“Together We Can”) Tour with civil rights leader Dolores Huerta.
“We are a state of immigrants who have been made successful, strong, and — I would argue — safer and more secure by those who come here to do better for themselves and to do better for all of us,” O’Rourke said. “So let’s replace their stunts, their cruelty, with real solutions.”
With 35 days remaining before the start of early voting, most polls show O’Rourke trailing Abbott by at least 5 points. That was the two-term incumbent’s lead in a poll released last week by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.
During the two-hour rally at a packed Villita Assembly Building, O’Rourke touched on a host of issues, including women’s rights, gun laws, the stability of Texas’ electrical grid and immigration reform. The latter has been a hot-button issue across the country this past week, following recent moves by DeSantis and Abbott that involved transporting migrants to Martha’s Vineyard and cities such as Washington, D.C.
Earlier this week, roughly 50 migrants were lured from outside San Antonio’s migrant resource center and unwittingly flown from Kelly Field to the Massachusetts resort island of Martha’s Vineyard without officials there expecting them. DeSantis took credit for the flights, telling media outlets it was part of his state’s program to relocate migrants to a “sanctuary destination.”
The following day, Abbott announced the arrival of two buses full of migrants from Texas outside Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington. The buses dropped off over 100 migrants from Colombia, Cuba, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela.
Addressing the practice of transporting migrants to targeted locations, O’Rourke called for solution-based bipartisan legislation that would tackle Texas’ immigration issues.
“The 53 human beings found dead in this community in the back of a trailer should force each of us to ask ourselves … ‘What would it take for me to climb into the back of that trailer?’ … What would compel you to reach down and grab the hand of your 11-year-old daughter and bring her up into this trailer with you?” O’Rourke said, referring to the deaths of 53 migrants brought to San Antonio and abandoned in a sweltering truck in June. “When I think about this, the only reason I would do that is if I had no other option to save his life. If this were my only choice.”
O’Rourke was joined by U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro; actress, writer and producer Cristela Alonzo; Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales, City Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (D7), and Mike Collier, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.
Following the rally, the 92-year-old Huerta, who lives in California, told reporters she is supporting O’Rourke because she believes he can bring change to Texas that is beneficial for women, children and people of color.
“It’s going to be up to the people of Texas to make sure that he gets elected so he can do that,” she said. “He would … protect the people, and govern to help the people in Texas, not punish them, like their government now is doing.”