Beto O’Rourke, a congressman who hopes to win election to the U.S. Senate, conducted back-to-back town hall meetings in Edinburg and Brownsville on Tuesday, taking questions from local residents in both areas.
In Edinburg, the town hall took place at the Echo Hotel and Conference Center on Closner Boulevard.
In his opening speech, the Texas Democrat from El Paso spoke in favor of Dreamers.
“I think Dreamers are every bit as American as anyone in this room,” he said.
O’Rourke also commented on his senate rival Ted Cruz, pointing out that Cruz was the only U.S. senator to vote against moving forward to discuss policies regarding Dreamers.
After his speech, O’Rourke took questions from the audience.
Allyson Duarte, a Dreamer and tutor from South Texas College, said she felt betrayed because of O’Rourke’s budget vote last Thursday.
“What was the reasoning behind the Feb. 8 vote for the spending bill?” Duarte asked. “It just killed any possibility of passing a DREAM Act that would take care of not only my needs, but the needs of over 60,000 immigrant youth that are here in the RGV.”
O’Rourke replied that he was thinking about the well-being of the military and veterans depending on the Veterans Affairs when he voted for the spending bill.
“My decision was that voting ‘no’ on the budget, and voting to continue the shutdown, and stopping all functions of the government, was not likely to be able to produce the result that we wanted, which was protection for those Dreamers,” O’Rourke said. “My hope is that as the Senate provides a compromise consensus deal, that we in the House [of Representatives] can provide a companion legislation.”
Duarte said, “Actions speak louder than words. … [We’re] the least of us, the scapegoats of the government. You’re sacrificing us, and that’s not nice.”
She proceeded to give O’Rourke $20 for a dinner that he allegedly bought her, saying her “dignity is not for sale.”
The rest of the town hall went on without a hitch, with most not asking questions, but instead praising O’Rourke.
McAllen attorney Joe Garcia, a former Hidalgo County Democratic chair, commended O’Rourke.
“You, Beto O’Rourke, have not ignored us,” Garcia said. “He is willing to carry the flag, to do the right thing in this country. He has said those keywords. It is our time. It is your moment. And he’s absolutely right.”
He is seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in the March 6 primary election. If elected, he will compete against the winner of the Republican primary on Nov. 6.