ABC-7 sits down with Rep. Beto O'Rourke

Freshman congressman talks immigration, gun control

EL PASO, Texas - The 113th Congress is entering its fourth week of its first term. And it looks like senators and representatives on both sides of the aisle are making headway in bipartisan relations, at least on some issues.

The newest example of this is the latest effort to reform our nation's immigration system. Monday, a group of eight senators, both Democrat and Republican, announced a plan that, if passed, would give millions of undocumented immigrants a temporary living and working status. It also called for improved monitoring of visitors, a crackdown on hiring undocumented workers and a strengthening of border security.

Freshman Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, told ABC-7 he's encouraged to see senators from both parties come together on immigration reform.

"Unfortunately, many of the points in this plan are conditional on achieving full border security," added O'Rourke. "It is such an open, ambiguous term and it is one I don't think we'll be able to satisfy to the satisfaction of everyone in this country."

O'Rourke pointed out that, during President Barack Obama's first term, more undocumented immigrants were deported to their home country than during any other presidential term before. The congressman also said there are other factors at play that make the border safe.

"There is a billion-dollar border wall running through our community.  We have the lowest number of immigrant apprehensions at the southern border in the last 40 years that we've been studying this. And yet, people say we still need to secure the border. I just don't know what that means."

O'Rourke would like to see a pure immigration reform that looks at giving a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and matching immigrants to jobs that citizens don't want.

The congressman also talked about the latest efforts to curb gun violence.

While this country has mourned the loss of so many to shootings -- both individual murders and massacres -- the one that clearly touched a nerve and has prompted proposed changes to gun laws is the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 first-graders.

O'Rourke said our nation needs to examine closing the gun show loophole so background checks are conducted on those who purchase weapons from those shows and examine what kind of guns average people should be allowed to own. He said he doesn't want to infringe on the second amendment right guaranteed in the Constitution, he referred to the Declaration of Independence to make his next point.

"The three inalienable rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And premier amongst them is life," said O'Rourke. "I think we all have the right to be free from gun violence, especially at the level we have it today."

To watch the full interview with Rep. Beto O'Rourke, click here.

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