O'Rourke hits Trump on immigration: He's the 'arsonist' who seeks credit for putting out fire

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) hit at President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE's announcement to cut off aid to three Central American countries, saying it would spark more migration and asylum seekers from that region.

"Donald Trump is the arsonist who gets the credit for putting out the fire," O’Rourke, a 2020 presidential contender, said in an interview with CNN’s “Axe Files” set to air Saturday.

"He is going to cause worse out-migration and asylum seeking from Central America by cutting off all U.S. aid, and then he wants to be the person who gets the credit for stopping it,” he added, in a clip released by the network. 


O'Rourke was referring to an announcement from the State Department last month that the United States would no longer provide foreign assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. 

The announcement came after President Trump has attacked the three countries, accusing them of not doing enough to stop the surge in migration into the United States.

"Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them," Trump said in a tweet last year.

O'Rourke told CNN that as president, he would seek to ease the flow of migrants from Central American countries by investing in the region to reduce the need for migration. 

“What we need is someone who will not play games or politics with people’s lives or the security of this country, but will invest in the smart decisions and policies like investing in Central America to stop the outflow before it even begins,” O’Rourke said.

“We can try to address these problems at the U.S.-Mexico border with walls or open arms or we can address them in the countries of origin before they ever become a problem, and that’s what I want to do,” he said.

O’Rourke, one of more than a dozen Democrats running for president, has cast himself as a staunch opponent of Trump’s immigration policies, often reflecting on his six years representing the border town of El Paso in Congress.

“We will find security not through walls, not through militarization. We will find security by focusing on our ports of entry,” he said in El Paso last month at his official campaign launch. “If we are really serious about security, we have a golden opportunity — Republicans, Independents, Democrats alike — to work on comprehensive immigration reform, to rewrite this country’s immigration laws in our own image with our own values and in the best traditions of the United States of America.”

The former Congressman also organized a counter-rally when Trump staged a campaign event in El Paso earlier this year.