Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said that his hometown of El Paso, Texas, could be the “Ellis Island of today,” an entry point for “millions” of immigrants from Mexico and Central America.
The former Texas congressman made the comments during an ABC News interview with Briana Stewart that took place at the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island.
An @ABCNewsLive exclusive: One-on-one with @BetoORourke at the Statue of Liberty. “Where I live in El Paso, Texas, could be the Ellis Island of today,” he tells @BrianaKStewart. “A reminder of American history at its best, and at its worst.” https://t.co/PpPqi5DnFu @ABCPolitics pic.twitter.com/eX0JV1PVvr
— Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) July 22, 2019
“This is Ellis Island, but where I live in El Paso, Texas, could be the Ellis Island of today,” O’Rourke told Stewart. “Perhaps millions of people who become Americans coming from Mexico and El Salvadore and the Western hemisphere first set foot in the United States in my hometown. So, though we’re about 2,000 miles apart, El Paso and New York, we’re connected in that common story of America.”
O’Rourke called Ellis Island a “reminder of American history at its best, and at its worst” where America “welcomed or failed to welcome immigrants.” (RELATED: Beto O’Rourke Says America Was ‘Founded On White Supremacy’)
“But there have also been moments where we overcame that, reminded ourselves of who we are at our best, and I feel like this is just one of those moments, a defining moment for this country,” he said.
The former Texas congressman, who ran a tight race against Texas Senator Ted Cruz in 2018, has struggled to gain traction in a crowded Democratic field. Cruz speculated over the weekend that O’Rourke’s struggles could have something to do with the fact that the media has “turned on him.”