The Vela family history is deeply entrenched in public service and education. Filemon's father, Filemon Vela, Sr., postponed his law school education to serve in the U.S. Army, where he was on active duty for two years. After earning his law degree, he was elected judge of the 107th District Court in Brownsville. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Judge Vela to the federal bench in the Southern District of Texas— a position he would hold the rest of his life. In recognition of Judge Vela's commitment to education, Vela Middle School in Brownsville is named in his honor. Similarly, Filemon’s mother, Blanca Sanchez Vela, is equally committed to public service. After successfully raising three children, she was elected Brownsville's first female mayor. During her tenure, she focused on upgrading Brownsville's transportation infrastructure and was a strong proponent of Brownsville literacy programs.
Filemon’s parents stressed the importance of education to Filemon and his siblings beginning at a young age. Filemon attended Saint Joseph Academy in Brownsville, Texas. He then attended college at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. where he served as an intern at the Federal Judicial Center -- the research and education agency of the federal judicial system. Filemon also served as an intern in Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz’s Washington, D.C. office.
Upon graduating from Georgetown University in 1985, Filemon attended the University of Texas School of Law and earned his juris doctorate in 1987.
For more than 20 years, Filemon practiced law in South Texas, helping countless individuals seek justice in state and federal courts across the country. His legal practice focused on complex civil litigation. As a trial attorney, Filemon successfully represented clients who were the victims of racial discrimination, consumers who had been severely injured by defective products, and employees injured during work. Filemon is particularly proud of representing South Texas school districts and counties in construction defect cases. Some of the school districts and counties he represented included San Benito I.S.D., Pharr-San Juan-Alamo I.S.D., Mercedes I.S.D., La Joya I.S.D., Rio Grande City C.I.S.D., Edinburg C.I.S.D., and Hidalgo County.
As the first representative of the 34th District of Texas, Congressman Vela is proud to sit on the House Agriculture Committee (Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management) and the House Committee on Homeland Security (Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies). Congressman Vela is committed to attracting investment to South Texas and improving job opportunities through promoting infrastructure projects, such as expanding I-69 and upgrading the District's ports of entry. Additionally, Congressman Vela believes that all South Texans should have the opportunity to pursue a higher education. As a staunch advocate for Veterans' rights, Congressman Vela is committed to ensuring that all South Texas Veterans have access to a premiere VA system.
For the past 22 years, Filemon has been married to his lovely and accomplished wife, Judge Rose Vela. They reside in Brownsville. Filemon is committed to carrying on the legacy of service his family began in South Texas and effectively representing the 34th District of Texas in Washington.