LAREDO, Texas – Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, will give the keynote speech at the Texas Border Coalition’s annual meeting, which takes place Thursday at La Posada in Laredo.

DPS’s heavy presence in western Hidalgo County and Starr County came in for criticism at the Texas Border Coalition’s last meeting, which took place in June at Schlitterbahn Beach Resort on South Padre Island. State Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, and Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, in particular, questioned the value of giving DPS the lion’s share of the $800 million state lawmakers appropriated for border security.

A native of El Paso, McCraw (pictured above) became DPS director in 2009. He began his law enforcement career with DPS in 1977 as a trooper in the Texas Highway Patrol and a DPS narcotics agent. In 1983, he became an FBI special agent and served in Dallas, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Tucson, San Antonio and Washington, D.C.

J.D. Salinas
J.D. Salinas

His assignments included supervisory special agent, Organized Crime Unit chief, assistant special agent-in-charge, inspector-in-charge of the South East Bomb Task Force, special agent-in-charge, director of the Foreign Terrorism Tracking Task Force and assistant director of the Office of Intelligence and Inspections.

In 2004, McCraw retired from the FBI to become the Texas Homeland Security director in the Office of the Governor where he served for five years. In addition to directing DPS, McCraw serves as the governor’s homeland security advisor. He earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees from West Texas State University.

McCraw will give his speech at 12 noon on Friday at the La Posada Hotel. Other law enforcement officials who have confirmed their attendance at the TBC annual meeting are Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar, Laredo Police Chief Raymond E. Garner, David P. Higgerson, director of the Laredo Field Office for Customs and Border Protection, Frank S. Longoria, assistant director of the Laredo Field Office for CBP, Rodney Harris, supervisory program manager for CBP in Laredo, Carlos Cerezo-Suarez, a border security coordinator for CBP in Laredo, and Mucia Dovalina, public affairs liaison, for CBP in the Laredo field office.

The TBC annual meeting starts with a reception on Wednesday evening in the Tesoro Room at La Posada. Blas Castañeda, a Laredo native who chairs TBC’s workforce training committee, helped organize the reception. He said TBC members and guests will enjoy refreshments and informal networking with Texas-Mexico border leaders, sponsored by the Association of Laredo Forwarding Agents and La Posada.

“The Texas Border Coalition is the collective voice of border communities on issues that affect Texas-Mexico border region quality of life. TBC is comprised of mayors and city council members, county judges and other county executives, and business and community leaders. We represent more than 2.5 million people in dozens of Texas border communities from Brownsville to El Paso. We have standing working committees in education/workforce, border security and immigration, health and economic development/infrastructure,” Castañeda said.

State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, will make the opening remarks at the TBC annual meeting, which formally starts at 8:00 a.m. on Friday in the Philip V Room at La Posada. In addition to the keynote speech from DPS Director McCraw, other VIPs slated to speak include Renato Ramirez, chairman and CEO of IBC Bank-Zapata and Mr. South Texas 2014, and Leodoro Martinez, Jr., chairman of the Eagle Ford Consortium.

“We will be following up on the issues we discussed at our successful summer meeting last June in South Padre, like transportation infrastructure, militarization of the border, the outlook for cross-border trade and developing our priorities for the legislative interim. Our friends at IBC Bank will sponsor a working lunch for all TBC members and guests,” said TBC Chairman J.D. Salinas, III.

Salinas said that all dues-paying TBC members in good standing who attend the annual meeting will be eligible to participate in the election of the TBC’s Chair-Elect. This person who will lead the coalition when Salinas’ term concludes in 2017. Under the TBC By-laws, candidates for TBC Chair-Elect must be a current or former elected representative of a TBC member city or county.

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz said he is pleased the City of Laredo has rejoined TBC. “The Texas Border Coalition is an important group that speaks for the border region. We are happy to re-join the group and are honored to be hosts for the 2015 annual meeting,” Saenz said.

McAllen business leader Monica Weisberg-Stewart chairs TBC’s immigration and border security committee. “

“Now more than ever the border region needs to be united and speak with one voice in order to make sure Washington and Austin understands the realities of the border as it pertains to health, transportation, education immigration and border security. The Texas border coalition has and continues to be that voice” Weisberg-Stewart said.

For more information about the TBC annual meeting contact Elizabeth Lippincott at [email protected] or 512-744-0044.