“The humanitarian crisis on the Texas-Mexico border is going to be a political crisis for Democrats. If we cannot fix this, I guarantee you we will own this—because the other side is content with their cruelty. They’ll build walls and put up razor wire barriers in the river, and they’ll say when people die and drown, ‘well, maybe they shouldn’t have tried to cross in the first place.’ That’s their case. What is our case? I don’t know what it is because I haven’t seen a leader of our party get something meaningful done on this.”
-Beto O’Rourke, episode 342 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso
As a fourth generation border resident in El Paso, politician Beto O’Rourke has long been making the case for immigration reform. He’s continued to do so this summer, as the humanitarian crisis at the Texas-Mexico border has accelerated under Gov. Greg Abbott.
After a check-in with Dad Fragoso (4:08) we sit with O’Rourke to unpack the severe anti-migrant tactics carried out under Operation Lone Star (15:50), the dangerous rhetoric that delivered this crisis (28:00), and the checkered history of immigration reform in Texas (31:10). We also walk through the focus of Beto’s new book, We’ve Got to Try: How the Fight for Voting Rights Makes Everything Else Possible (35:47), the four-year aftermath of the El Paso shooting (38:38), and why he continues fighting for change in the state (42:45).
On the back-half, O’Rourke reflects on his recent Gubernatorial campaign (46:36), how the Texas electorate has shifted since his 2018 Senate run (49:53), his unwavering belief in people (55:55), how he hopes President Biden mitigates the cruelty at the border (1:00:00), and to close, a story about fatherhood (1:05:10).
- Join the fight down in Texas alongside Powered by People.
- Support the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, ACLU Texas, and Mission Border Hope.
- Watch Sebastian (written and directed by Sam) about his late grandfather.
- Listen to our first conversation with Beto from 2020.
- Order Beto’s latest book.
- Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
- For supplemental pieces, read Biden’s Dilemma at the Border (The New Yorker), Texas Spent Billions on Border Security. It’s Not Working. (The Wall Street Journal), The 2013 Senate Passes Immigration Bill (Politico), The 2022 Texas Gubernatorial Race, by the numbers (KERA News), and see George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan’s 1980 debate on immigration (TIME).
- For more talks, hear our conversations with Stacey Abrams, Dolores Huerta, Julián Castro, Gloria Steinem, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Congressman Maxwell Frost, Noam Chomsky, and Dr. Cornel West.
- Order your Talk Easy mug in cream and navy or our vinyl record with Fran Lebowitz.
Illustrations by Krishna Shenoi.