U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) made headlines earlier this week when he penned a heated open letter to Donald Trump, but it’s not the first time Vela has been vocal about his opposition to the border fence.
Vela, whose father was a long-serving federal judge, led a Congressional visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in 2013 while the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bill was still on life support in the U.S. House of Representatives. He and U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (Arizona) filed a bill to resurrect the immigration reform effort before the end of the session, but Syria and mounting Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act ultimately derailed any chance at governance, culminating with a fortnight-long government shutdown.
Vela’s proposed bill sought to eliminate the conditions in the Senate immigration bill which required border security benchmarks be met before the creation of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country.
“We’re talking about the 11 million that are already here,” Vela said in 2013. “For sure we need to put in place security measures and they can take many shapes.
“But it shouldn’t be conditional.”
President Barack Obama has said it was the inaction of Congress that led him to issue executive orders allowing temporary visas for the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens. That program has been held up by the courts.