DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke returned to Dallas Thursday to hold a roundtable discussion on his newly-introduced immigration reform plan.
His campaign calls it the “most sweeping rewrite of U.S. immigration law in a generation.”
At the Casa Komali Restaurant, he met with a variety of immigration attorneys, “Dreamers” who were brought here illegally by their parents when they were young and other community members.
O’Rourke told them, “I see the best of America represented at this table today.”
The former El Paso Congressman told participants that his plan includes creating a pathway to citizenship for eleven people, making naturalization easier for nine million eligible immigrants, increasing family-based immigration, and rescinding President Trump’s temporary travel ban on people from some majority-Muslim countries.
In addition, O’Rourke would also only detain those who are caught crossing the border who have criminal backgrounds and represent danger to the communities.
He would also immediately stop all border wall construction, and give no money for any new wall.
After the roundtable, I asked O’Rourke what his plan does to prevent illegal immigration, and what he would say to critics who might call his plan open borders.
O’Rourke said, “We end Trump’s chaos at our border. So no more putting kids in cages or separating families or pushing asylum seekers back into Mexico.”
His plan would also invest $5 billion in Central America.
O’Rourke said, “We go to the root of the challenge we have in the northern triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras. We’ll work with local officials to reduce violence so that fewer families have to make the 2,000 mile journey to our country.”
One of the roundtable’s participants, Lulac National President Domingo Garcia, a former State Representative of Dallas, asked O’Rourke about the need to have bipartisan support for his plan.
O’Rourke said he wants to work with others, but that it’s time to act. “We’ve waited more than 30 years on this and we cannot wait and allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good. We’ve got to move on this very early in the next administration if we have any hope of being successful. And it needs to be bold, it can not be defensive, it’s got to be comprehensive.”
Aside from O’Rourke, former San Antonio mayor, former HUD Secretary and Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro announced his immigration reform plan in early April.
When asked how he will keep Biden from gaining too much support in Texas, O’Rourke referenced his 2018 Senate race, in which he nearly unseated Ted Cruz.
“I think we can bring that same kind of movement and kind of political leadership and repair to our democracy to the country at large. So grateful the vice president was here, hopeful we’ll be able to share this larger Texas story with the rest of the country.”
O’Rourke also downplayed his current standing in the polls.
The Real Clear Politics Average shows him at 4%.
“We have nearly seven months before the first caucus (Iowa), plenty of time for us to get out there and meet with everyone and share this very ambitious, aspirational, and unifying message for our country.”