Congressman Vela speaks on immigration and border control

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, said Monday the Democratic Party is actively taking steps to oppose Trump’s actions regarding immigration policies and the border wall.

“With respect to the immigration ban that (Donald Trump) rolled out (and) to the border wall, we’re going to have to do everything we can to stop it,” Vela said. “Fortunately, the court system has come into play and our system of checks and balances is working out so that the (executive branch) is beginning to see that there are limits to its power.” 

The Texas Tribune hosted the event, moderated by co-founder and CEO Evan Smith. Trump’s actions in his presidency have so far aligned with his campaign promises, Smith said.

“Outrage is different from surprise,” Smith said. “Nobody is actually surprised. He told us what he was going to do … and he did it. Is there not a part of you that thinks elections have consequences? You should’ve gotten people to turn out to vote, and now the only recourse you have is get your guys organized and come back in four years.” 

Vela said there is a great deal of disappointment from those who opposed Trump’s presidency. Although it’s been less than a month since the inauguration, Vela said there are already many issues for Democrats to face.

“Not only do I think we are moving in the wrong direction, but in my lifetime, I don’t remember a situation where the overall message between the United States and Mexico has gone in this direction,” Vela said. “The fact that we don’t have one Hispanic member of the U.S. Cabinet for the first time in 40 years — I think it’s startling.” 

Government freshman Vanessa Rodriguez, who attended the event, said Trump’s policies impact her because she’s an undocumented student. Rodriguez mentioned the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which allows certain undocumented children to temporarily stay in the country.

“Attempts to pass legislation like the BRIDGE Act will protect DREAMers like me in case DACA is taken away,” Rodriguez said. “I just wanted to ask (Vela about) his contribution or his support or willingness to fight for us.” 

Rodriguez’s concerns were met with support from Vela. 

“I think I speak not only for myself but for every single member of the Democratic Caucus that we are going to do everything that we can to protect those that benefit from DACA,”
Vela said.