Thousands of people from all over the state met at the Capitol to protest President Donald Trump's immigration policies.
The "No ban, no wall" rally was held by members of the Muslim and Latino communities in direct response to the President's promise to build a wall along the southern U.S. border and a travel ban he put in place for seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Saturday, there was a sea of support at the Capitol for undocumented immigrants and refugees afraid that President Trump will target them next.
“When you have this injection of anxiety and fear and paranoia in our immigrant communities, the relationship with local law enforcement breaks down and makes us less safe, more dangerous and perversely does exactly the opposite of what President Trump says he wants to do. It's going to make us less safe and not more safe,” said U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, (D) El Paso.
There are already some signs that deportation fears are growing in the Lone Star State.
“I see the lack of Latinos out here and it's wonderful that other people of other races are out here, but I think the Latino community is really scared right now. Even being brown, just being brown makes you nervous,” said Nora Nieto Lacey who was at the rally.
Even though many at Saturday’s rally had nothing to fear, they wanted to let those in the immigrant community know they would rather build bridges than walls.
“For me to see this happening to Latinos, it's very painful for me. It's like I tell my husband, ‘my house is not on fire, but my neighbor’s house is on fire.’ And even though all the things that are happening don't affect me at all, they affect humanity,” Lacey said.
“When we're united and when we join forces and common cause with folks who are coming out here in Austin today, it's harder to beat us up, it's harder to bully us, it's much easier for us to stand up for ourselves and potentially change the direction this state and this country is taking,” said O’Rourke.
Others said border security is an issue, but spending billions on a wall that may not have any impact is inefficient and fails to empathize with refugees who risked it all for a better life.
“There's things that can be fixed, nobody's saying there isn't a problem, but I think the execution that we're seeing out of the White House is poorly done,” said David Lacey who was also at the rally.
O'Rourke thinks Trumps immigration policies like building a wall along the southern border will not make America great again or safe again. Instead, he said it's an unnecessary expense driven by fear and misunderstanding and federalizing local law enforcement to secure the border could create issues elsewhere.
“If we're spending resources and putting law enforcement where we do not have a problem, by definition we're taking law enforcement and resources from where we may have a problem,” O’Rourke said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced they will be seeking bids from federal contractors that wish to help build the wall along the southern border. They said they will start awarding contracts in mid-April.