Democratic Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke of Texas claimed on Friday that the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is the reason why an increasing number of migrants have died as they illegally attempt to cross into the country.
“The number of people dying at the U.S.-Mexico border in some years has grown,” O’Rourke said during an El Paso town hall. “In some years has grown because it’s connected to that wall that we have already built that pushes people who are at their most desperate and vulnerable to ever-more inhospitable stretches of the Chihuahua Desert.”
The El Paso congressman explained that the number of people trying to cross the border increased by almost 40 percent between 1998 and 2010 after some of the barrier was constructed in the El Paso sector.
“The wall in this area was built in 2006, 2007 and 2008,” he continued. “So even though total crossing attempts had decreased, the number of deaths went up.”
Town Hall https://t.co/ShnZkxDeMU
— Rep. Beto O’Rourke (@RepBetoORourke) December 14, 2018
O’Rourke has long argued against a border wall.
Following President Donald Trump’s executive order in September to erect an 18-foot steel bollard wall to replace the existing pedestrian fencing in El Paso, O’Rourke’s congressional district, the congressman called the existing chain-link fence as “bad enough.”
He emphasized the way to improve safety and security is to “ensure that we are maximizing the potential from everyone … (and) treating each other with respect and dignity.”
During the town hall, the failed Democratic senatorial candidate referred to Trump’s request to fund a wall an “expression of our smallness, our meanness, our fear to the rest of the world.”
O’Rourke, who has claimed to oppose open borders, has faced backlash for refusing to clarify where he stood on the migrant caravan that was heading towards the U.S.
People responded to O’Rourke’s claims on Twitter.
@BetoORourke might the responsibly be theirs for breaking the law? If they had entered country legally, instead of as illegal👽’s they’d be alive and well today! Beto O’Rourke thinks people have died because of the border wall https://t.co/V321YtWA92
— JG (@hocsoc1946) December 15, 2018
People have died because the boarder wall hasn’t been built. https://t.co/w2Am42lwFN
— St8ble Genius ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@st8blegenius) December 15, 2018
During his unsuccessful run to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in November, O’Rourke dodged commenting on the topic despite immigration and border security overwhelmingly being the top issues for voters in Texas.
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