Former Obama advisor says immigration would give O’Rourke advantage in 2020 election

Krishanti Vignarajah, an Obama-era State Department senior adviser, said Thursday that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke's (D-Texas) personal experience on top issues like immigration would be an advantage in the 2020 presidential election.

“I think part of it is thinking about what are the top issues going to be,” Vignarajah who is now the CEO of Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service (LRS), told Hill.TV during a panel discussion over whether O’Rourke would make a formidable Democratic candidate.

“From LRS [Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service] perspective, we work with immigrants and refugees along the entire southern border and we believe that immigration and the border wall will be and ought to be front and center in the presidential election,” she said.

Vignarajah added that O’Rourke would have an advantage on the issue “because he could draw on the personal experience” and “speak to the issue directly.” Before running for Senate, the former congressman represented El Paso in Texas's 16th congressional district for three terms and is a vocal critic of Trump's proposed border wall.

O’Rourke appears to be edging closer to making a decision over whether he will run for president. The 46-year has been repeatedly floated as a potential top Democratic contender for 2020 ever since his closer-than-expected Senate loss against incumbent Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails The Memo: Like the dress or not, Ocasio-Cortez is driving the conversation again Ocasio-Cortez defends attendance of Met Gala amid GOP uproar MORE (R) in the 2018 midterm elections. 

The Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday that O’Rourke has ruled out another Senate run but will likely announce a presidential bid in the next few weeks.

O’Rourke later issued a statement following the report, saying that he has reached a decision and would announce it soon.

“Amy and I have made a decision about how we can best serve our country," O'Rourke told the newspaper. "We are excited to share it with everyone soon."

—Tess Bonn