Rep. O’Rourke hears testimony at town hall from those affected by deportation

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Leonardo Montañez

(Left-Right) Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights and Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, discuss immigration reform at a Monday town hall meeting.

Leonardo Montañez, Staff reporter

Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, hosted members of the Congressional Border Caucus for a Monday immigration reform town hall meeting.

The purpose of the event was to listen to El Pasoans who have been affected by deportation and was held in partnership with the Border Network for Human Rights.

The congressman invited Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, and Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., to the town hall at the El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center to listen to the community’s struggles. About 100 people attended, but Grijalva could not make it.

O’Rourke said he doesn’t support the militarization of the border and said that an alternative would be a better option, but he did not specify.

“I will keep proposing for a way to better the necessities of our community,” O’Rourke said.

Audience members voiced their concerns and asked the congressmen their questions.

Roberto Gonzalez, an audience member who has been affected by deportation, expects much of the congressman and wishes for a just immigration reform.

“We all here want an integral reform that doesn’t separate families,” Gonzalez said. “I decided to involve myself with Rep. O’Rourke because it feels bad to be criminalized when we are just here trying to work and help this country.”

O’Rourke said stories shared by members of the community help the congressmen understand and share their stories in Washington.

“I like this conference because we know they carry the voice of our people,” Gonzalez said. “We wanted to give our messages because we want them to know our stories so they know how to tell them in Congress.”

Carla Aldrete, freshman political science major, attended the press conference and said she supports immigration reform.

“Almost everything I heard today I agree with,” Aldrete said. “It is something that hits very close to home with many of my family members trying to make it to citizenship.”

The House immigration reform bill is pending in Congress. The Senate immigration bill was passed in June.

“I ask people to open their minds and try to understand the others perspective,” Aldrete said. “People need to understand that these people are not criminals and are not trying to harm us in anyway.”

Leonardo Montañez may be reached at [email protected]