As two migrants are murdered in West Texas, Abbott and O’Rourke arrive for Rio Grande Valley debate

Pablo De La Rosa
3 min readSep 30, 2022

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Families of the Uvalde Shooting victims visit the Rio Grande Valley to call for stricter gun control laws hours before the Gubernatorial debate between Greg Abbott and Beto O’Rourke in Edinburg. | Credit: Carolina Cuellar

Note: You can livestream tonight’s debate at 7:00 PM Central Time on the Texas Public Radio website.

The one and only gubernatorial debate between Greg Abbott and Beto O’Rourke is happening tonight in the Rio Grande Valley. The event takes place just days after two migrants were murdered in West Texas.

Related: Abbott, O’Rourke to face off in sole Texas gubernatorial debate

Related: Former warden arrested for shooting migrants in string of anti-immigrant violence in Texas

Two men, one of them a former warden, have been arrested in connection with the murders.

The Democratic Party issued a statement connecting the violence to the political rhetoric around immigration in the current election cycle, echoing sentiments from voters and advocates in the Rio Grande Valley on social media this week.

From the Texas Public Radio article:

The Democratic Party of Texas said in a statement that it blamed the shootings on political rhetoric around immigration policy, which has been stalled in Congress for decades.

“This killing in West Texas is the direct result of Texas Republicans’ violent fear mongering of undocumented migrants: when you continuously use language like ‘invasion’ to describe what is happening at our border, the only logical conclusion is that you want migrants and asylum-seekers to be treated like ‘invaders,’” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party.

Hinojosa pointed out that the same rhetoric led to the Wal-Mart shooting in El Paso that killed 23 people. The shooter said he was “targeting Mexicans.”

In the Rio Grande Valley, local voters and advocates have taken to social media to demand a response from Abbott about the murders during tonight’s debate.

Local community members are not the only ones connecting recent incidents of violence to public policy in the Rio Grande Valley today. Families of the Uvalde shooting victims are holding a press conference in Edinburg to once again call on Governor Abbott for stricter gun control laws.

Other local advocates and advocacy groups in the border region are adopting the moment to counter statewide and national rhetoric that has focused on portraying the Rio Grande Valley as in crisis across multiple issues.

Rio Grande Valley Watch Parties

You can stream tonight’s debate on the Texas Public Radio website at 7:00 PM Central time from home.

If you’re in the Rio Grande Valley, the following watch parties are happening

Embassy Suites McAllen

Texans For Greg Abbott is hosting a watch party for the debate tonight at Embassy Suites in McAllen (Google Map: 800 Convention Center Blvd) starting at 6:30 PM.

More info and RSVP on Eventbrite: Governor Abbott’s Debate Watch Party

Real Del Valley Event Center Edinburg

Beto O’Rourke supporters are hosting a watch party for the debate tonight at Real Del Valle Event Center in Edinburg (Google Map: 4631 S Veterans Blvd) starting at 6:00 PM.

More info and RSVP on Mobilize: Debate Watch Party — Edinburg

La Morenita Bakery Edinburg

Mi Familia Vota is hosting a non-partisan watch party for the debate tonight at La Morenita Bakery in Edinburg (Google Map: 1102 W University Dr B, Edinburg, TX 78539) starting at 5:00 PM.

More info and RSVP on Every Action: Basta Abbott Debate Watch Party

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Pablo De La Rosa

Pablo De La Rosa reports statewide with Texas Public Radio and nationally with NPR from the Texas-Mexico border, from where he originates.