O’Rourke pays return visit to Dallas College

Speaks to packed house at El Centro


Staff Photo/Ryan Bingham Duff

Beto O’Rourke speaks during his gubernatorial campaign stop at the El Centro Campus of Dallas College on Oct. 3.

Ryan Bingham Duff, Staff Writer

“When we were here in 2018, this place was not full. There were not students waiting outside the door who could not get in,“ Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke said. “And here it’s what’s different. It’s the same candidate, so I know it’s not about me. I’m in the same political party, I know it’s not about the party. And by the way, Republican, Democrat, Independent, no me importa. The differences between us do not matter.”

In an auditorium full of emotions and people, Beto O’Rourke visited Dallas College at the El Centro Campus on Oct. 3. The Democrat challenging Republican incumbent Greg Abbott was invited by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) club.

“It was about the change we need as Texans and feeling about the current administration cannot provide those changes since they’ve already been in office for about eight years now,” said Blake Ayden Quintana, a government major at the Eastfield campus of Dallas College and student fellow for O’Rourke’s campaign.

O’Rourke talked about several important issues like the Texas abortion ban, which has no exception now for rape or incest.

“I intend to protect every woman’s right to make their own decisions about their own bodies, health care, and their own future, the very protection that was won by Texas women nearly 50 years ago in Roe vs. Wade in 1973. That’s the standard from which we should return in Texas.”

According to O’Rourke, the policies of Abbott make voter registration difficult for some parts of the population and it is reflected in the turnout.

“I don’t think Texas is conservative or Republican, I think Texas is a non-voting state today. Not enough of millions of voters are able to cast their ballot. I think all these great volunteers here today are gonna help us to reach those no-voters, make them vote, and we win,” O’Rourke said.

Quintana said, “I just really like what he stands for, how he listens to both sides and sets aside politics to discuss what really matters to Texans. He’s not afraid to reach across the aisle and bring everyone over. It feels more like a unified front.”

O’Rourke talked about gun violence, the pay wage in the state and the prices of medicine like insulin, which he said costs the lives of Texans every year.

He also said he is planning to raise the legal age to buy an AR-15 or an AK-47 from 18 to 21 to try to intervene in the lives of troubled young people.

“I came from a high school where we actually had a person, a student [who] walked in with a gun. He went through metal detectors, and he didn’t get caught with the gun. And he didn’t successfully hurt anyone, but he hurt himself,” said Angel Herrera, a student at El Centro.

One of the attendees was Jimena Lopez, a fashion marketing student at El Centro. She said she left her class early to attend O’Rourke’s event.

“I’m a big supporter of his and I just wanted come see him talk and take pictures of him and just be supportive, Lopez said.”

O’Rourke also talked about student loan debt. He said that no student should have to be in debt to get a college degree.

“I hope that it will help as intended by a great number of college students and former college students in the state of Texas who are struggling under debt in a state that has yet to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 with a governor that is driving inflation on property taxes and energy bills and housing costs. But I think that we can actually do more in Texas and say, ‘Hey look, umm, your first two years college whether here at El Centro or any other public university, you should take on no debt in order to be able to get that education,” O’Rourke said.

“And then for those who are pursuing in-demand professions in under-served communities — nursing, mental health, medical care or doctors, schoolteachers, or educators in other communities, let’s make sure that you don’t take on any debt no matter where you go in order to be able to enrich those communities on the condition that you serve in the community from which you came. So there’s a lot we can do on that front.”

O’Rourke also addressed the prices that Texans have to pay for energy and the importance of reducing the cost of it.

“I doubt you’ll see our current governor meeting with students, often many of them first generation, some <of> whom have never voted before and actually spending time asking them what they think not just assuming that they know and that’s a huge difference,” Wade Hyde said.

Another crucial issue that O’Rourke talked about was immigration and, according to him, the immigrants have been demonized with political purposes and possible solutions to fix a broken immigration system.

“This is one where the governor’s tried to create a lot of division but where there’s a lot more common ground than people realize. Everybody agrees that if you come here, you should follow the law. Everyone also agrees that our laws should follow our values, our economic needs, and the reality that we see right here in Dallas, El Paso or anywhere else across the state. That means that there should be a safe, legal orderly path to come here to work, to join family, to seek asylum, and right now there is not, and it is creating so much of the chaos that is driving the, you know, the demagoguery, vilification, demonization, around immigrants around Greg Abbott today. So, solutions, instead of stunts like this busing,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke proposed to have a “Texas-based guest worker program,” which would allow immigrant workers to come here legally to work and return to their home countries with their families once the program finalizes.

Fatima Cruz, neuroscience major at UTD and LULAC Club member at El Centro who invited O’Rourke, said they also invited Abbott to give his speech as well to teach the current generation the importance of voting.

The Abbott administration responded via email with:

“Thank you for inviting Governor Abbott to visit the LULAC Club at Dallas College at the El Centro Campus. As you can imagine, our office receives thousands of requests for the Governor to personally attend events across our state and nation. While all of these requests hold value, as a matter of practicality, Governor Abbott is unable to participate in all of them. At this time, we must respectfully decline your invitation.”

“Please note that this in no way diminishes the worthwhile nature of your event. Governor Abbott certainly does commend the many individuals and organizations across Texas and the nation who are seeking to make a difference.”