Congressman O’Rourke speaks on SB 4 and coming home as he hosts Hurricane Harvey relief event

Adrian Broaddus, Editor-In-Chief

From what was supposed to be a campaign rally turned into a convocation of helping those affected by Hurricane Harvey for Congressman Beto O’Rourke on Thursday night at Ode Brewery.

He and his campaign organized the event to collect all sorts of donations for Hurricane Harvey victims that would be sent out to east Texas and to help out those who were rescued and transported from Houston to El Paso.

“We had a chance to be in Houston yesterday. We’re trying to be where there are extraordinary people are literally out there risking their lives to help each other out in their moment of need and to make Texas proud,” said O’Rourke, who had drove into town just three hours before the rally. “We couldn’t be more proud of our state right now and that includes the people of El Paso. They’re coming out here to donate, to help out, to see what we can do to help out our fellow Texans.”

The Chamanas, a local band, opened the event with their musical act at Ode Brewery, while guests poured into the facility, bringing with them cases of water, diapers, clothes, food and any sort of donations to help the cause.

David Chayer, the executive director of the Red Cross, spoke on behalf of the local organization, who teamed up with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger and the Salvation Army to donate goods. He encouraged anyone wanting to help or volunteer to visit

“It’s incredible to see the community have so much compassion towards such an important disaster,” he said. “So many people have come up and asked to serve and help volunteer. Our website is even having problems with so many people logging on. It takes more than just a village. And people are going to need help for years after this.”

Similarly, O’Rourke was extremely thankful for the local support of the event, but he was not surprised by El Paso’s graciousness. He pointed out how about 2,000 volunteers from El Paso made their way to Houston, while almost 600 more were on their way.

“We have service members from Ft. Bliss who were deployed, we have DPS troopers, we have police, first responders, ambulance crews, and good samaritan El Pasoans who are doing their best to try and help and rescue those who need that right now,” he said. “It’s not a surprise having grown up here and raising my kids here knowing the character of this community, but it does make you proud.”

He even recalled a story where he was helping out people in Rockport last night, and firefighters from Guanajuato, Mexico, came out to help those in need after driving two days straight, which he said would remain in his mind forever.

O’Rourke decided not to make the event about his Senatorial race against Ted Cruz. Rather, he wanted to focus his attention towards a greater cause.

“Not really thinking about (campaigning) a whole bunch right now,” he said. “There’s so much need in the state right now and such an opportunity to help people out. There’s folks walking in today carrying in supplies for those who have been hurt by Hurricane Harvey.”

However, he was pleased with the news about SB 4 being temporarily blocked by a San Antonio judge.

“Grateful that the judge in San Antonio stopped its implementation,” he said. “There is concerns about the constitutionality of SB4. We know it would be a really hard hit on our communities. It would make them less safe. In a time to make sure that people are okay, that they recover from Harvey, that we rescue those who need the help, we don’t want anybody worried about local law enforcement doing anything other than helping people, rescuing people, serving people, protecting there—that’s what they’re there for—not enforcing federal immigration law.”

Amanda Serrano, a sophomore nursing major, was pleased with the Congressman’s politeness and willingness to talk to as many people as he could at the event.

“I’m here to support Beto and all he’s doing for those affected in Hurricane Harvey,” she said. “He’s very friendly, outgoing, welcoming and generous.”