Beto O'Rourke visits historic Ellis Island for 1st time

O'Rourke visited the landmark alongside his wife Amy, using his time on the island to condemn President Donald Trump's recently inflammatory remarks on immigration.
8:57 | 07/23/19

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Transcript for Beto O'Rourke visits historic Ellis Island for 1st time
ABC news exclusive a one on one with presidential candidate former Texas congressman better or work. Our political reporters Rihanna Stewart Sasha has nick traveled. How with the work to date making a pilgrimage in New York City to Alice island once. The gateway to this country and a place that a work now compares to his hometown. At El Paso, Texas he says that El Paso is a modern day. Pat Ellis Island of sorts. Do Rihanna and Sasha both asked or work about his plans to overhaul the American immigration system. Plans for climate change health care is first debate performance and what's in store for his campaign. What it means to be airlifted out means you. This is one of the best parts of the American story it makes me so proud. To be here to see the pictures. And to know our history that we welcomed millions of people from around the world to come here. So they could do better for themselves to better their families but also because we knew that they were going to do. Better for us this is Ellis islands but where I live in El Paso, Texas could be the Ellis Island of today. Perhaps millions of people who become Americans coming from. Mexico and El Salvador and the Western Hemisphere first set foot in the United States in in my hometown so. Though were about 2000 miles apart. El Paso and New York we're were connected in that common story of America. What do you have to say about you know what the president has been saying about migrants and his recent called Q and asylum rights for migrants coming to or there. You know being here to Ellis Island is a reminder. American history at its best and at its worst. Trump is not unprecedented there have been. Other moments of open hostile racism and negativism. In this country that is affected how we welcomed or failed to welcome. Immigrants but they've also been moments where we overcame that reminded ourselves of who we are. At our best and if I feel like this is just one of those moments a defining moment for this country as I listen to my fellow Americans all across. The United States I'm hearing a stated we want to be ambitious we want to be positive. We want to be that country of immigrants and asylum seekers and refugees want there to be a safe. Orderly process for people to be able to calm here because we know that makes this country better. But I was with you lacking independence I lack hot fourth of July during the parade. Which is a lot of buying by your family there but there Ellison some moments where voters came up to you confronting new. Aunt in the happy parade concerned there was that moment with the feet out and it's that we are prioritizing. Migrants over. I'm the American people what do you say to them. We don't have to accept the false choice that our president. Has given us that's. We can either be a great country or we can be a country of immigrants. We are a great country because we are country of immigrants and asylum seekers. And refugees at the very foundation of our success in the first place and that woman I met in in independence on the fourth of July who. Bravely served this country to make sure that we do everything we can. To guarantee that shift world class health care that she is connected to a career or furthering her education. That we honor the service and the commitment and the sacrifices she made. To this country and at the same time that we remind ourselves that those who come to this country. They want to work or they want to. All of our laws that want to contribute towards success and our greatness and their ability to do so her ability to succeed is to the benefit and success of everybody. In this country so let's not kid ourselves. Against one and one another let's not divided along lines of difference. Let's unite come together include every single one of us that's America at her best and that her strongest that's the America that I want to leave. Do you think. It. Yes president trump as a racist. What we saw it in. North Carolina last week was almost an impromptu Nuremburg rally inciting hatred and and ultimately I think implicit in that is violence against people based on the color of their skin. Based on the religion based on their difference from the majority. Of Americans and it is in keeping with the president. Who describes Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals who describes asylum seekers as animals or an infestation he says a Klansman. Our our very fine people. It's very clear in the past that he is taking us on. And we either willingly submit to that we are we are complicit in our silence. Or we stand up against it and it also stand for what we know this country can be and that's what I'm trying to do that's what the people who were part of this campaign. Are trying to do at this moment of truth silence especially from members of congress who hold the position of public trust. And power silence is complicity. In what the president is doing and there will be an accounting there will be a reckoning there will be justice for this sooner. Or later. You lawful act then apparently regarding their heritage and wearing it isn't it time you release medium. Post revealing that you and your wife Amy Aaron fact that and it hopefully why come out and repeal act. Understanding my personal connection that the fact that. An ancestor of mine owns two other people rose and allies. And by their labor. From their in slate and it was able to build wealth. Which he was in some way able to pass down to succeeding generations. That is something that's. I have in solemn way. Benefited from and likewise the descendants of rose analyze. Whatever success they've had in our lives has been despite the facts. That their ancestors were enslaved. That that they were essentially denied full participation. In this country's economy. And our democracy. And we've got to reconcile. That but it begins by telling that story Eck acknowledging that the real truth. Of America and in that I feel we will get the action necessary to repair that damage and make should we do the right thing. They are to agree on artful. And Rihanna and Sasha join us now from now live from New York after their morning with federal work on else Allan ladies thanks so much. Upper come in and out of quite an experience with that'll work he has struggled a little bit in the polls but. Obviously coming back to his personal story very human story. Look and to reboot his campaign. Yes definitely and you thought on our island him really trying to dry in the spirit. There you know. Everyone is welcome all immigrants are welcome and were all Americans. Arm under our constitution but that's not always what Keith Matt way. Out on the campaign Trout are as you thigh and arm in and the clip there he's been actually confronted by voters. Who are concerned. I'm about me you know the the rise of migrants coming to to our borders and worried about what that might mean for them economically. Com and he's had to really. Answer some tough questions both on the campaign trial. Com me you know anti chicken people and Sasha when I ask you about that because on that very point he has broken win. His fellow Texan in this race. Income before congress and Castro he doesn't want to decriminalize border crossings right. Yes that's right and actually it's really interesting that you mentioned that DeVon because he's been confronted not only by voters on the trail he's also be confronted by his fellow candidates on stage. The last debate your member Castro Leon cost of his fellow Texan in the 20/20 race was saying. Bechtel you have not done your homework you have not done your homework on immigration and he was really challenging him going to hotel and if we remember. That over didn't really have. A strong rip tort. To him at the time then what was interesting today I was inside. Ellis Island win. Him and his wife and they were asking questions we were not only there walking around and seeing the sights we were there. With historians who were able to inform. Every single step of the journey and he was asking questions it really seems like he was doing. Doing his best to do the homework that he was accused of not doing before. And we will see if he's done his homework for opt for the next debate as well his performance and that first debate as you said Miami. How much criticized were looking forward to US senior both in Detroit next week France Stewart's after president thank you both can often bringing us that exclusive well with federal work much mourn abcnews.com.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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