Beto O'Rourke was born in El Paso. O'Rourke attended Columbia University where he captained Columbia's rowing crew. He graduated from Columbia in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature. He is fluent in Spanish.
Following college, O'Rourke worked at Internet service providers in New York City before his return to El Paso in 1998. The following year, he co-founded Stanton Street Technology, an internet services and software company that develops websites and software. His wife, Amy, operates the business as of March 2017.
In mid-2005, O'Rourke ran for the El Paso City Council and defeated two-term incumbent City Councilman Anthony Cobos, 57%–43%. O'Rourke is one of the youngest representatives to have ever served on the City Council. In 2007, he won re-election to a second term.
In January 2009, O'Rourke sponsored a resolution calling for a "comprehensive examination" of the War on Drugs and "the repeal of ineffective marijuana laws". The resolution, which was unanimously supported by his colleagues on the El Paso City Council, was vetoed by then-Mayor John Cook and spurred a larger national discussion on the topic. He told reporters that the reason he decided to speak up about what he called the failed war on drugs was the thousands of people who have been killed in the drug war in the adjoining city of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. "I hope it has all had its intended effect of starting the national discussion of the wisdom of the war on drugs […] and probably more importantly, helping to bring about a better solution than the status quo, which has led to the terror and tragedy in Juarez.”
In his third term, Beto O'Rourke is a Democratic member of the U.S. House representing Texas' 16th Congressional District. He was first elected in 2012. He currently serves on the Committee on Armed Services, and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
On March 31, 2017, O'Rourke formally announced his candidacy for the United States Senate seat held by incumbent Republican Party member Ted Cruz. O'Rourke raised $2 million within the first three months, mostly from small donations. O'Rourke pledged during the campaign not to accept PAC contributions for his Senate campaign.
In March 2018, O'Rourke became the Democratic Party nominee, winning 61.8% of the primary vote. He received his first major organizational endorsement from End Citizens United in June 2017, which found that he had raised triple the funds of Cruz without accepting corporate special interest money.
Beto O’Rourke is endorsed by The League of Conservation Voters, the Human Rights Campaign and MoveOn.org Political Action, as well as other organizations.
Congress has avoided its responsibility to provide oversight for the wars the U.S. is fighting around the world. We’re at war in six countries right now and fighting enemies that didn’t exist when Congress authorized the global war on terrorism following 9/11. We need to support our service members by ensuring this country has defined victory; has adopted a comprehensive strategy to achieve it; and is willing to commit the resources and leadership to see it through.
Provide the necessary financial resources and support to Texas military bases and facilities to ensure that they can accomplish their missions. If we are to continue to put our service members in harm’s way, Congress owes the American people a debate and vote to give guidance to our military on who we should be fighting and where. Acknowledge that we cannot kill our way to achieving our goals, nor should we put the entire weight of U.S. foreign policy on the backs of our service members.
Congress must work with our military leaders to clearly define victory so that our service members and our citizens know what we are fighting for. We must pay for the total cost of war as we wage it, by ensuring that those who have borne the battle will have the support (education, healthcare, housing and otherwise) they have earned once they are veterans.
Texas has a proud and honorable tradition of responsible gun ownership for hunting, sport, self-defense, and collecting. Like so many Texans, Beto learned to safely handle and shoot a gun at a young age — taught by his Uncle Raymond who was a sheriff’s deputy and a jail captain. That shared heritage — that uniquely Texas experience — means that our state should lead the way in preserving the Second Amendment while working together to ensure people can live without fear of gun violence in their communities.
We should require background checks for all gun sales to ensure that firearms only get into the hands of responsible, law-abiding individuals. This means finally closing the gun show, online, and boyfriend loopholes. We should stop selling weapons of war and high-capacity magazines to ensure that firearms designed to kill as effectively and efficiently as possible on the battlefield aren’t used in our schools, our streets, our churches, and our concerts. We should block the erosion of Texas’ license to carry standards by opposing Concealed Carry Reciprocity, which would force Texas to allow anyone from states with weak to nonexistent conceal carry laws to disregard our own public safety requirements. We should fully support federal research on gun violence so that we can better understand and address its root causes.
All Americans must be treated equally under the law. Steps we can take to achieve this goal include: Supporting measures like the Equality Act, proposed legislation that would provide the same non-discrimination protections to LGBTQIA Americans as any other protected class under federal law.
Guaranteeing that same-sex couples are entitled to access the same federal benefits as any other Texas family. Repealing the Defense of Marriage (DOMA) Act entirely and ensuring same sex couples equal access to benefits like social security, regardless of the state in which they live. Ensuring that all Americans are paid equally and treated fairly, regardless of their gender. It is critical that we support policies that end wage discrimination and close the gender pay gap.
Much of our strength, success, and security as a state and as a country depends on the immigrants who contribute to our society as together we build the American Dream. Any honest immigration reform must reflect the value of immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers by providing a path to work, family reunification and citizenship.
At a time when the border with Mexico has never been safer, and when we’ve never spent so much on border security, the surest way to improve safety and security is not to build a wall or spend billions more, but to ensure that we are maximizing the potential from everyone in this state, treating each other with respect and dignity.
We should end the militarization of our immigration enforcement system, and close private immigration prisons and detention centers that profit from locking up families. We should pass the DREAM Act and ensure that undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children, known as ‘Dreamers’, find a permanent home and citizenship in the U.S. We should ensure that those who come to our borders seeking refuge from violence and persecution are given a fair opportunity to present their claims and guaranteed due process under our laws. We should improve the immigration system to encourage and facilitate family reunification, education, and the investment of talent in our country. We should modernize the visa system to allow U.S. employers to find workers for jobs that American workers can’t fill. We should reform our immigration laws to legalize the status of millions of immigrants already in our country and ensure a fair path to citizenship for those inspired by the opportunity and ideals that we present to the rest of the world.
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THE ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF GREATER HOUSTON
River Oaks Islamic Center
3110 Eastside Street, Houston, TX 77098