Immigration remains a leading topic of discussion heading into the 2020 presidential election, and on the occasion of the first debates unfolding in the Democratic presidential primary, a number of candidates went right up to a scene at the heart of the issue in Homestead, Florida, where the Trump administration detains roughly 2,300 children. This Thursday, former Texas Congressman and presidential contender Beto O’Rourke asserted during a visit to the site that concerned Americans must “reclaim” the country from the harsh treatment of these detainees that has come to define the Trump administration.
In reference to the widely circulating reports of the desperate and even dangerous conditions in which detained immigrants including children have been kept, O’Rourke shared:
‘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. It is only when the president has given permission do you see kids put in cages or detained in tent cities like this one. 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.’
— John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) June 27, 2019
Although O’Rourke is himself an underdog candidate in the Democratic presidential primary race, there’s a good chance that Trump is unseated by a Democrat come 2020. Both leading contenders Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders finished a full 10 percent ahead of Trump in a recent poll conducted by Emerson College measuring support in hypothetical general election match-ups.
This is far from the first occasion on which O’Rourke has spoken out about immigration issues in the meantime. On Twitter following the discovery of a father and daughter who had died trying to get in the United States after being turned away when seeking asylum, he bluntly asserted that Trump was to blame for the deaths. During the Wednesday night debate he was a part of alongside nine other candidates, that claim came up again when former Secretary of Housing Julian Castro derided the Trump administration having ever turned the family away in the first place.
Besides O’Rourke, other candidates to visit the Homestead facility include Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who’s generally third in polling measuring support in the Democratic field behind Biden and Sanders.
Opposition to Trump’s immigration policy behavior continues to prove pretty united across the Democratic field. In a notable recent example of the conditions to which they’ve subjected detainees, third party lawyers had to pressure authorities to hospitalize four very ill toddlers, including at least one who was unresponsive. The Trump administration blamed Democrats for hesitating to pass more funding for the federal government’s immigration enforcement, but they did not need more money before being able to offer basic human services to those in custody – who, mind you, have generally legally protected asylum claims. They didn’t need more money to not argue in court as they did recently that they should not be obligated to provide detainees with items like soap and toothbrushes!
Featured Image via screenshot