Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke called on voters to “reclaim this country” from while visiting a migrant children detention facility in Homestead, Fla., on Thursday.
“This is what happens when you call Mexican immigrants racists and criminals. This is what happens when you call asylum seekers animals and an infestation,” O’Rourke told activists and reporters. “It is only when the president has given permission do you see kids put in cages or detained in tent cities like this one.”
— John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) June 27, 2019
He added: “All of us need to stand up and reclaim this country and what we mean to ourselves, to the rest of the world and to these kids. Donald Trump has done this, but it is up to us to change who is in the White House going forward.”
O’Rourke visited the facility, which holds roughly 2,300 children, a day after taking the stage with nine other 2020 hopefuls for the first Democratic presidential debate in Miami.
The Trump administration has continued to face backlash for its immigration policies, and O’Rourke is one of several Democrats to blame Trump for the deaths of a Salvadoran father and daughter, who were shown drowned near the southern border in a photo that went viral this week.
Trump is responsible for these deaths. https://t.co/UZirFjh3fm
— (@BetoORourke) June 26, 2019
“It’s up to us right now to apply the pressure to form the political will to see if we can get them to change these practices — even when he’s in the White House,” O’Rourke said Thursday. “We’re counting on one another right now.”
Andrew Clark, a rapid response director for Trump’s 2020 campaign, tweeted later Thursday that “O’Rourke again repeats the false claim that President Trump called immigrants ‘animals.’ ”
Trump came under fire in May 2018 for his comment calling undocumented immigrants who are members of the MS-13 gang “not people,” but “animals.”