Karen Cardenas, 17, of Washington, will be old enough to vote in the 2020 election and made a point of visiting Art Domestique in Washington on Friday, March 15, to hear what 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke had to say.
O’Rourke, who is the 15th Democrat to announce his bid for the 2020 presidential candidacy, kicked off his Iowa tour last week. O’Rourke rose to fame after narrowly losing a senate race to Ted Cruz.
At Art Domestique on Friday, Cardenas said she came out because she wanted to hear what his stances were on topics important to her such as immigration and the Dreamers.
“As someone who’s Hispanic and has had people who are Dreamers in my family, that is really important to me,” she said. “And, it was in my hometown and that is always a really great experience.”
Cardenas brought her friend Brandon Jimenez, of Wellman, who had no idea O’Rourke would be in town until Cardenas told him. He said he had heard of his positions on certain issues but was excited to have an opportunity to meet the candidate and ask questions up close.
“As a person who experiences problems with immigration in their family as a Latino, it is very important to me to see someone that lives in a highly populated community,” he said. “For him to understand the voices of the people more, that’s very important for me.”
Immigration and the status of the Dreamers were two big topics O’Rourke touched on day two of his Iowa tour. He explained he is not a supporter of the border wall and instead wants to see Dreamers, or those supported by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, made into legal citizens.
“Let’s legalize those Dreamers and make them U.S. citizens so they can reach their full potential,” he said. “Not only is it to their benefit, it is to our benefit as well.”
He explained that in El Paso, they have built a bridge to Mexico, instead of a wall, to unite the two countries. Unity and bringing the country together during a time of political turmoil were the big focus of his speech.
“Every single person in this country is important to me regardless of your party affiliation or your geography, or your race or your gender or your sexual orientation. All that matters right now is not our differences that could potentially divide us in this defining moment of truth but what we have in common,” he said. “We are Americans before we are anything else.”
Mental health reform, specifically for veterans, was a topic he tackled on Friday. He said he was a supporter of new treatments such as equine therapy and medicinal cannabis instead of addictive treatments such as opioids.
“We’ve got to put our money and our actions where our mouth is,” he said. “We cannot just tip our hats, pat on the back, thank you for your service. We have really got to be there for people who are there for us.”