Filemon Vela

Representing the 34 District of Texas

Homeland Security

I serve as a member of the Committee on Homeland Security, which is responsible for oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

 

The Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee is responsible for oversight of all relevant aspects of visa, border, port and maritime security, including Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, Container Security Initiative, the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program, the Visa Waiver Program, and Biometric Entry-Exit, among others. It has oversight jurisdiction over 51% of the DHS budget, as well as four of its seven operational components including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

 

As the senior ranking Democratic Member on the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, I work to ensure that South Texas has a  voice in federal legislation and 

policies, particularly those relating to customs, border security, immigration, and trade.  As one of the only districts in the United States with land, air and sea ports, I work with numerous Federal agencies to upgrade facilities and ensure people and goods can move safely and efficiently. Coordinating with local and federal officials has been critical to ensure commercial traffic can cross at the Donna-Rio Bravo Bridge, to provide upgrades to the infrastructure of Veterans Bridge and Gateway Bridge, to expand Los Indios Bridge capacity, and to ensure Pharr Bridge has the infrastructure as well as the agriculture officials necessary to move the tons of produce that cross each day. I also continue to be vocal in my opposition to the border wall, which threatens the wildlife of the Rio Grande Valley and the rights of private landowners. The border wall is the embodiment of hateful and misinformed rhetoric used to describe our neighbor Mexico, and Americans of Mexican descent.

 

As co-chair of the Congressional Border Caucus, I am working to ensure that efforts to increase security on our borders take a balanced approach that includes investing in international ports of entry.  It is critical that we expand resources for infrastructure, equipment and personnel needed at our ports to ensure that goods and travelers entering this country can do so quickly and efficiently while halting the flow of drugs and other contraband.  This is particularly important when considering that last year alone, U.S. trade with Mexico reached $500 billion and impacted every U.S. state. I will continue to elevate cross border commerce which is a source of economic growth for South Texas.