Former congressman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Robert "Beto" O'Rourke told a group of immigrants earlier this week that the United States of America was "founded on white supremacy" and the legacy of past injustices are still reflected in "every single institution and structure" of the country.
The Tennessean reports that O'Rourke made the remarks at a roundtable event with Tennessee immigrants on Monday in Nashville. The discussion was put together by TIRRC Votes, a political action committee associated with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.
"Here we are in Nashville," O'Rourke said in response to a question about how he would combat white supremacy as president, according to the story. "I know this from my home state, Texas, places that formed the Confederacy, that this country was founded on white supremacy."
But O'Rourke didn't stop with that claim. He went on to add that "every single institution and structure that we have in this country still reflects the legacy of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow and suppression, even in our democracy."
During the discussion, O'Rourke also criticized President Donald Trump's immigration policies and accused him of using Immigration and Customs Enforcement to spread fear and break up families. But his immigration policy critiques also extended to previous administrations.
"We also have to admit that Democratic presidents have used ICE raids mercilessly," O'Rourke was quoted as saying. "Whatever the motivation, it instilled fear and broke up families."
The former Texas congressman and failed Senate Candidate also made headlines last week for his comments about the Betsy Ross American flag last week. In response to the controversy sparked by Nike's decision to pull shoes with the flag design at former NFL player Colin Kaepernick's request, O'Rourke said "I think its really important to take into account the impression that kind of symbol would have for many of our fellow Americans."
O'Rourke is currently polling at an average of 2.6 percent, according to RealClearPolitics' aggregation. That puts his average almost a full 25 percentage points behind Democratic frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden.