Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is holding three rallies Saturday in his home state of Texas, the first of which will take place in El Paso near the Mexico border that President Donald Trump threatened to close the day before.
The former Democratic congressman tweeted about the plan on Friday, and will also be visiting Houston and Austin on his tour. The rallies were previously scheduled.
Though O’Rourke has been making a series of public speeches since he announced his run earlier this month, he’s pitching Saturday’s rallies as the official start of his campaign.
During a Friday press conference in Florida at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, the president vowed to shut down the southern border “if Mexico doesn’t get with it.”
“There is a very good likelihood that I will be closing the border next week,” he said.
Trump issued the warning on Twitter too, where he claimed that “Mexico has for many years made a fortune off of the U.S., far greater than Border Costs,” adding that he would shutter the border if all illegal immigration didn’t come to a halt immediately.
On the same day, a Department of Homeland Security official told reporters there are no plans for a border closure next week. Trump has previously made such threats without following through.
O’Rourke, a former congressman who launched a failed bid for Senate in 2018, has taken a firm stance against Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric, noting that El Paso is remarkably safe despite the president’s fearmongering over drugs, sex trafficking and violent crime.
Though Trump has credited the border wall as having made the city safer ― a claim that has been debunked with FBI data showing the area was never highly dangerous to begin with and actually saw more violent crime after the wall was built ― O’Rourke said in February that he would take it down if it were up to him.