Posted: Nov 7, 2012 6:20 PM
Updated: Nov 8, 2012 12:20 AM
BROWNSVILLE - The Rio Grande Valley's newest congressman is vowing to make the Obama administration aware of the security problems plaguing the region.
Filemon Vela Jr. on Tuesday was elected to the newly created 34th Congressional District. He said the border region has changed and Washington needs to get that message.
"We used to go eat (in Mexico) - once, maybe twice a week. We used to take people to shop ... people would come in from out of town. It was a very fun thing to do," he said at the B&M International Bridge in Brownsville.
"That's a part of life that many of us here on the border are now missing, and we want it back," he said.
He said now it's a very difficult decision to cross the border into Mexico.
Vela said many lawmakers in Washington just don't understand what is happening in the region.
"My law office is not too far away from here. A couple of years ago, when violence was erupting on the other side of the border, we felt it right here at UTB," he said.
"What I'm going to tell members of the Obama administration and any other representatives from other parts of the county is that they don't know the border like we do," Vela said.
"Those of us who live here know that life is not the same that it used to be. It used to be very easy to go right here across the bridge, and many of us know that we cannot do that any more," he said.
Vela said he is assembling his staff and talking to Valley police.
"I'm going to listen to those that have the experience in law enforcement here," he said. "I'll be reaching out to them ... learning from them, and I'll be taking their views to Washington."
Vela said he is not ready to request more officers and agents to secure the border.
"I assure you that I will be a voice to tell the story of South Texas. When you have congressmen from other parts of the country - like Iowa - tell us that we need a border wall when we know we don't, we need somebody that is going to speak up and make sure our voices are heard," Vela said.
The new 34th Congressional District includes several South Texas counties, including Cameron and part of Hidalgo.