Congressman Filemon Vela Stands by Decision to Boycott Inauguration

6 years 1 week 3 days ago Thursday, January 19 2017 Jan 19, 2017 January 19, 2017 12:15 PM January 19, 2017 in News

WESLACO – U.S. Congressman Filemon Vela assured Rio Grande Valley constituents he doesn’t regret missing President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The congressman’s decision to not attend the president-elect’s inauguration stems from an alleged incident involving Valley students. In a statement, Vela claims the students were verbally harassed by other students also in Washington D.C. for Friday’s event.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to the congressman by phone on Friday. He is currently in Washington, D.C. visiting with students from the Valley.

“You have somebody that’s been a presidential candidate, who’s fostered attitudes around the country that lead people to believe that those kinds of words and actions are OK, when in fact the President of the United States should be doing everything he can to eradicate racism,” he said.

Vela’s office isn’t saying which school district the students are from. But they claimed the students were called names including “wetbacks,” “burritos” and “beaners” by other students from out of state. He also stated one student was even spit at.

Vela’s spokeswoman Mickaela Carter added Vela believes this is the tone that president-elect Donald Trump has set for the nation and Vela wants no part in it.

In his statement, Vela said, “Mr. Trump himself has stirred the seeds of bigotry.”

The boycott is also Vela’s attempt to show his disapproval for Trump’s cabinet, which he said includes no Hispanic members for the first time in 36 years.

Vela went on to say in his statement that Trump has turned an eye on racism, and his hopes of the soon-to-be president eradicating racism are now more of a distant dream. 

Weslaco ISD responded to the incident Vela referenced on Facebook.

Weslaco ISD superintendent Dr. Priscilla Canales said students that were harassed on Thursday did not retaliate and opted to take the high road. She added people that allegedly harassed the Valley students were from California.

The CLOSEUP Program is investigating the incident. 

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