Democratic candidate launches presidential bid with three rallies across Texas

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AUSTIN, Texas Hundreds flooded the streets of El Paso, Houston and Austin on Saturday to join Beto O'Rourke as he kicked off his presidential campaign.

The Cabellero sisters are no strangers to the borderland, though they live in Seattle.

“We love EL Paso, and we love Beto," said Valerie Cabellero-Morrow. "We love everything he stands for.”

The Democratic ex-congressman held a Saturday rally mere blocks from the U.S.-Mexico border in his native El Paso, then traveling to historically black Texas Southern University in Houston before an evening event in the shadow of Austin's state Capitol.

He stood on a dais surrounded by supporters holding signs and flags, who would occasionally break out in chants of "Beto, Beto!"

O'Rourke emphasized the multicultural nature of El Paso, calling it a "city of asylum seekers and immigrants." His speech was in direct contradiction to rallies with President Trump, who has made building a wall on the southern border the signature promise of his administration.

O'Rourke promised to help Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children. However, he also indicated support for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which some Democrats have called for abolishing.

"We're up against the biggest challenges of our lifetimes. We have an economy that works too well for too few and not at all for too many; a system of health care where millions are unable to see a doctor or be well enough to live to their full potential. And our last best chance to confront climate change before it is too late is fading in the face of our inaction."

O'Rourke also pointed to his Senate campaign as evidence that Texas was becoming a more Democratic-leaning state.

In Austin, O'Rourke highlighted some of his policy positions, including debt-free college, universal background checks for guns, legalizing marijuana and reinstating the Voting Rights Act.

O'Rourke has visited nine states since joining the race on March 14, though he promised to head home for an official launch.